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Conferees bump university foundation-control question to budget chairmen

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House and Senate higher education conferees agreed Saturday to trim cuts to developmental education programs at state colleges, but sent a disagreement about control of state university support foundations up the chain of command.

Lead Senate negotiator Bill Galvano indicated at one point during an afternoon meeting that the developmental spending might have to be referred to the House and Senate appropriations committee chairmen — Carlos Trujillo and Jack Latvala, respectively.

But House negotiator Larry Ahern agreed to a Senate offer to reduce the cut by $30.2 million. The original Senate budget would have cut around $90 million.

Developmental programs are intended to help nontraditional students cope in the classroom.

The foundations — also known as direct support organizations, or DSOs — were another matter.

“The House has its DSO position, and we are not going to the House position on it. That’s something that the big chairs are going to have to discuss and figure out. We just left it open,” Galvano said.

House Speaker Richard Corcoran entered the budget process intent on exerting control over the foundations, including opening more of their books to public scrutiny.

The committee didn’t reach formal agreement on the foundation policy bill, HB 5601, or on SB 374, spelling out the Senate’s reorganization of the state college system.

“They’re not necessarily bumped. Those policy issues are really not in controversy,” Galvano said.

Attendance by conferees during the meeting had declined markedly since negotiations opened on Thursday — “more and more as we closed out issues,” Galvano said.

“I think we had one of the more cohesive budget conferences. A lot of these big issues were Fourth Floor issues” — of interest to the presiding officers — “and have been around in both chambers. So when we came together, there was not as much to fight over,” he said.

Michael Moline is a former assistant managing editor of The National Law Journal and managing editor of the San Francisco Daily Journal. Previously, he reported on politics and the courts in Tallahassee for United Press International. He is a graduate of Florida State University, where he served as editor of the Florida Flambeau. His family’s roots in Jackson County date back many generations.

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