In the past five years, the University of Florida has seen its state funding cut by 25 percent. “This year is the most challenging yet as we work to do more with less and make the cuts in such a way as to preserve the quality of education at UF,” President Bernie Machen said in the wake of this year’s $38 million reduction.
Those cuts have come in response to a brutal recession. But what if the good economic times return yet UF continues to see crippling budget cuts?
That could happen if voters approve proposed state constitutional Amendment 3 on the Nov. 6 General Election ballot.
Amendment 3 would impose a cap on state revenue collections based on a formula that takes into account state population growth and inflation. Any money collected above the cap would go into the state’s “rainy day” reserve fund or be returned to the taxpayers. If approved, the new revenue limits would be phased in beginning in 2014.
Florida already has a revenue cap, one based on personal income growth, but it has never been triggered. If this more rigid cap had been in place, the state would have collected “too much” money between 2004 and 2006 ... just about the time lawmakers began to slash the state budget because of recession-caused revenue shortfalls.
According to an analysis by the Washington, D.C.-based Center on Budget and Policy Priorities: “If the measure were to take full effect today rather than several years from now, the state would lose more than $11 billion in cumulative revenues in just 10 years.”
Voters should reject Amendment 3. An arbitrary cap on revenue collections that robs the state of the ability to confront natural disasters (hurricanes) or make the educational and quality of life investments necessary to remain competitive in an increasingly high-tech world makes no sense.