From Kim Wilmath of the Tampa Bay Times:
In a year when the state’s current 11 universities’ budgets are being cut by hundreds of millions of dollars, Gov. Rick Scott on Friday signed a bill creating Florida Polytechnic out of the University of South Florida’s branch campus in Polk County — the final approval of the pet project of departing Senate President JD Alexander.
Opposing the move were students, faculty, Florida’s top business leaders and citizens all over the state, who felt that now is the wrong time to embark on an endeavor that will cost taxpayers for years to come.
“So many people worked so hard for so long on this campus,” said Gene Engle, a Lakeland realtor who chaired the USF Poly campus board and sits on the USF Board of Trustees. “You just feel like you had the rug snatched out from under you.”
They did. And Florida’s governor proved to be gutless when it came time to stand up to a bully before dashing out the door on a Friday afternoon to duck media scrutiny. Siding with a few Polk county fat cats, Scott let down thousands of state college students, not only at the USF Lakeland campus, but throughout the entire USF system.
If Scott really wanted to defend his decision as a principled one based on a critical need for STEM education, he would have signed the bill earlier this week and faced the music with conviction. Sadly for Floridians, the cowardly last-minute timing of his signature showed Floridians that their governor is not a man of principle. JD Alexander’s arrogant grab of public funding for his own benefit went unchecked by a milquetoast and impotent governor.