State slashes education funds

Florida A&M University is one of many state universities facing budget cuts. Lawmakers approved a $2.8 billion state budget cut Jan. 14.

Public schools and social services face $1.2 billion in budget cuts. Of that amount, $466 million will come from public education and the drop in funding will equal about $140 less for individual students.

Rep. Alan Williams, D-Tallahassee, said it is unfortunate that a big part of the cuts will come from education.

“We voted no against it, but the Republicans would not hear it,” Williams said. “We suggested other options like [a] cigarette tax increase, tax loopholes and such, but the Republicans didn’t pick on them.”

Students at FAMU stand to feel a major effect of the cuts.

Vice President of Student Affairs Ronald Gaines, said they are attempting to get through the current fiscal year without anyone being negatively impacted.

“Some 90 percent of our students receive federal or state funding,” Gaines said. “If any of these are reduced, yes, our current and incoming students will be affected.”

Some students feel it is not fair the state takes away from education to replace shortages within the budget.

“Our state is not the most flourishing in the country,” said Ashley Nelson, 21, a third-year occupational therapy student from Fort Pierce. “Taking away funding from our schools is taking away from our craft like football, drama club and cutting our scholars.”

Leonard Warren, 20, a sophomore business administration student from Tampa said students will suffer as result of the cuts, especially those who are from out of state.

“Some students don’t have anything and limited funds would keep them from attending,” Warren said.

Student body president Andrew Collins said students should keep in mind that as the economy worsens, they may encounter difficulty in attending institutions throughout the state and country. He added that schools may raise tuition costs.

That is just one of the tough choices, Gaines said.

“Students face the possibilities of less class choices, larger class sizes, and reduction in summer school offerings,” he said.

Teresa Hardee, vice president for financial affairs, said currently the division of administrative and financial affairs are working with the leadership team to assess the true impact of the budget cut.

“There is always the potential for layoffs,” Hardee said. “However, the highest priority is to protect the quality of education at FAMU.”

Collins said FAMU is not likely to cut additional programs in the near future. He said the university will continue to uphold its mission of affordable, quality education.