Is Governor Rick Scott stalling on USF Polytechic decision?

6:42 PM, Apr 18, 2012   |    comments
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LAKELAND, Fla. - It was back to school for Governor Rick Scott Tuesday as he signed an almost $70 billion state budget into law.

He may have chosen the classroom setting because he's calling this budget the "education budget." He's allocating one billion dollars for education and vetoing over $142 million in spending.

But at USF Polytechnic in Lakeland, students, faculty, and staff wish he would have vetoed something else: the plan to make their school an independent university.

On Tuesday, while students were trying to concentrate on their studies at USF Polytechnic, Governor Rick Scott was trying to explain what he's wrestling with when it comes to making a decision about their future. He said, "We need more technology degrees. That's where the job opportunities are. So is it going to be easier to do it in a new university or expect our existing university to completely change?"

As you can imagine, students, faculty, and staff are hanging on every word he says to try to learn what's next for them.

Click here for a recent story about why USF Polytechnic students are fearful of a split from USF.

Governor Scott said, "So what I've got to decide by the end of the week is can we afford a 12th university? Will it be an efficient use of your tax dollars? Again, it's your tax dollars."

Damon Dennis is the Student Government president at USF Polytechnic. He is a senior majoring in marketing. He says Scott is stalling and has a message he wants the governor to hear loud and clear. "Protect the state's educational budget. Getting the 12th university will damage the budget. If money is tight with 11, it's going to be even tighter with 12."

Michael Nachrelli is a senior majoring in psychology. He says he's been emailing the governor's office just about every day. He says students would like to hear from the governor directly. "Come to our campus. Come to our county. Come to our region and address us in some way because, at this point, we feel like we've been disenfranchised."

Just last week, Senator J.D. Alexander took a group of people from Polk County to the state Capitol to lobby the governor. Many students from USF Polytechnic have also traveled to Tallahassee hoping their voices will outweigh Senator Alexander's.

Michael Nachrelli says, "It's even more than the school itself. I have to go to community. I'm from Lakeland. I'm a Polk County resident for 18 years now and I think it's beyond just the school. The community is going to pay the price either way." 

Governor Rick Scott says he'll announce his decision on Friday. He can sign it, veto it, or allow it to become law without his signature.

10 News contacted Senator Paula Dockery, since Lakeland is the district she represents. While she didn't call us back, she is urging Governor Scott to veto the bill.

10 News also contacted Senator Alexander. His legislative aide said he was in Lee County for the day. He did not return our phone calls for comment. 

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