Ben Wilcox, research director of Integrity Florida, today issued the following statement about proposed legislation that would merge New College of Florida and Florida Polytechnic University into the University of Florida. An earlier version of the legislation had New College merging with Florida State University:
“The Florida Legislature has generated a firestorm with a last-minute plan to merge the two smallest state universities into one of the largest, the University of Florida, swallowing up what makes the target schools unique and appealing. This scheme sprang up without warning, without study, and without even the courtesy of informing the affected university presidents. It appears to be ill thought-out and it represents exactly what people dislike about the often-secretive legislative process. It should be stopped before it goes any further.
As the plan seems greased for passage in the Florida House, it appears that its ultimate fate rests in the hands of Senate President Bill Galvano and the Florida Senate. In past years, the Florida Senate has been the more deliberate chamber that we have relied on to put the brakes on late session power grabs like this one.
A proposal of this magnitude deserves serious deliberation and vetting, and the proponents need to provide real evidence that it will, in fact, result in the cost savings that they claim. Instead, it’s being rammed through the process with a disregard for facts and despite the objections of legislators from both political parties, the universities’ presidents and students.
Throughout his distinguished 16-year legislative service, Sen. Galvano has been the embodiment of integrity, transparency, and a genuine commitment to advancing good government by doing things the right way. It would be a shame if, so late in his final session as a lawmaker and at the end of his Presidency, Sen. Galvano succumbed to the forces that view this kind of sneak attack as the way to do the people’s business.
Now is the chance for Sen. Galvano and the Florida Senate to secure his legacy by killing this reckless proposal to end New College of Florida and Florida Polytechnic University as independent, stand-alone institutions, serving particular niches of students who otherwise might not find a home in the State University System. We hope they take a stand for the integrity of the legislative process.”
Integrity Florida is a nonpartisan research institute and government watchdog whose mission is to promote integrity in government and expose public corruption. More information at www.integrityflorida.org.