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USF Poly case has some asking why Board of Gov. exists | News

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USF Poly case has some asking why Board of Gov. exists
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TAMPA, Florida -- The Florida Senate's vote last week to split USF Polytechnic immediately would have wide-ranging impacts. One of those could jeopardize a multimillion dollar state governing body.

The Florida Board of Governors voted last November in favor of an independent Polytech... but only over several years, with a number of benchmarks being met.

The Senate vote ignored that, demonstrating a lack of authority for the board.

Sen. Paula Dockery (R-Lakeland) recognizes the issue.

"Should we be forcing this now and going against the plan laid out by the Board of Governors?  If the answer to that is yes, then I say we do away with the Board of Governors, because what are they there for?" she told 10 News.

The board was created by constitutional amendment in 2002. It has 17 members -- about 50 full-time employees -- and a $6 million operating budget. The board's goal is "to operate, regulate, control, and manage that state university system."

But can it really do that, if the legislature has the authority to vote around it?

Board members don't seem ready to answer that question. Of those that 10 News reached out to Monday, only Richard Beard III called back.

He turned down an interview, saying they want to "sit on the sidelines" until the Florida House and Governor Rick Scott decide on the USF Poly split.

The board's communications director said in email "we're not inclined to get into a back and forth."

Gov. Scott, appearing on "10 News This Morning" over the weekend, hinted he may veto an immediate split.

"The Board of Governors set up a process for Polytech's independence.  We need to follow that, unless somebody can explain to me why we should change," he said.

The board next meets March 21 in Jacksonville, where it could address the authority questions raised by the USF Polytech case.

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