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The Florida Legislature recently agreed on a state budget for the 2011-12 fiscal year, which begins on July 1. The budget is now in the hands of Governor Rick Scott, who can approve or veto all or parts of the budget.

Because Florida faced a multi-billion dollar deficit for the next fiscal year, it had been expected for some time that UCF faced further budget reductions. However, I am pleased to report that UCF fared favorably when compared to other government agencies in Florida and throughout the country.

The current budget, if approved, will further reduce the university’s state funding. Additionally, some of the funds included in our state budget are designated for specific projects only, such as building construction and maintenance. These funds cannot be used for new programs or salary increases.

However, when an expected 15-percent tuition increase starting in the fall semester is included, UCF will see an overall 1.3-percent increase in the 2011-12 fiscal year budget. This also comes with a caveat, as much of this new tuition is also designated for specific areas and cannot be used for general university needs.

Our team has worked tirelessly to protect funding that contributes to the continued success of our world-class staff and faculty. I believe the higher education budget represents our elected officials’ understanding of the unique and critical role universities play in our state’s economic recovery and future growth.

Changes to Retirement

If signed into law, new legislation will require state employees to contribute 3 percent of their salaries into their retirement plans.

This means paychecks will be reduced by 3 percent, with those funds being directed to retirement plans. Other retirement plan changes will principally affect those employees hired after July 1.

Additional legislation, if approved, will maintain current health benefit levels and contributions for PPO and HMO plans.

It is important for those of us who could be affected by the changes to take any personal financial actions necessary to prepare for them. We will provide you with more information on these changes as soon as we know more about how they will be implemented and what they will mean for our employees.

Considering the financial difficulties facing our state, I hope you share my belief that this outcome is as positive as we could expect. Despite our budget concerns, UCF continues to perform exceptionally well, as evidenced by:

  • UCF is one of only 40 universities nationwideto receive the highest marks for research and community engagement from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching
  • UCF students recently won the national Ethics Bowl, defeating 31 teams from schools such as the United States Naval Academy, Dartmouth College and Clemson University
  • Four academic advisors received national awards for their excellence in serving students
  • Our student-athletes are continuing their academic success in Conference USA

These recent examples represent only a small portion of our staff and faculty members’ outstanding work. As the summer semester begins, thank you for your continued dedication to creating a culture of opportunity for our students.