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UFF Biweekly
United Faculty of Florida -- USF System Chapter
30 May 2013
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Summer Schedule

The UFF USF Chapter will meet tomorrow Friday, May 31, at 12 noon, at CDB Italian Restaurant on 5104 E. Fowler Ave. in Temple Terrace. The schedule of meetings this summer are:

  • May 31, and June 14 at 12 noon at CDB Italian Restaurant on 5104 E. Fowler Ave., just east of USF Tampa. Come for pizza (and veggies) and beer; all employees in the UFF USF Bargaining Unit, UFF members and non-members alike, are welcome.
  • June 28 at 12 noon near USF St. Petersburg and July 19 at 12 noon near USF Sarasota / Manatee. Again, all employees in the UFF USF Bargaining Unit, UFF members and non-members alike, are welcome.
Chapter meetings will start in Fall on Friday, August 30, at 12 noon, in a room TBA on USF Tampa. We will meet on alternate Fridays through the semester. Come check us out.


UFF needs your help to fight for you in Tallahassee. We need to help reasonable candidates get elected, and we need to build relationships with legislators we will be dealing with next spring. Thanks to the U. S. Supreme Court, that means campaign contributions. But DUES MONEY DOES NOT GO TOWARDS CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS, so the UFF Political Action Committee needs donations! Download, fill in, and mail the UFF PAC paycheck deduction form to contribute a few dollars out of each paycheck towards the UFF PAC fund. We need all the pull in the legislature that we can get.

Join UFF Today!

Download, fill in, and mail the membership form. Benefits of membership include the right to run and vote in UFF chapter and statewide elections; representation in grievances (UFF cannot represent a non-member in a grievance or litigation); special deals in insurance, travel, legal advice, and other packages provided by our affiliates; free insurance coverage for job-related liability; and the knowledge you are supporting education in Florida. AND YOU CAN JOIN NOW AND AS A DUES PAYING MEMBER, YOU WILL RECEIVE A $ 100 REBATE NEXT SPRING. Come and join the movement.


What the Legislature Did Last Spring

The economy is improving, and some legislators are finding the nerve to stand up to the leadership while others worry about the 2014 election. So things went better this year. Of course, we have a long way to go - notice the Contribute to UFF PAC announcement in the left column - but we made some progress towards bringing some sense to Tallahassee.

  • Money. After many years of cuts, the legislature reversed last year's cut and even gave us more money, albeit with strings attached. For more on the legislature's budget, click here or see below.
  • Some bills that passed. The two universities with the most clout in the legislature are now Pre-Eminent, and get to run Institutes for Online Learning. For these and other bills - including the bill undoing last year's Gen Ed bill - click here or see below.
  • Some bills that failed. FEA led the fight against the bill that would have eviscerated our retirement program, and won. For these and other victories, click here or see below.
The UFF USF Chapter will be re-igniting its Political Activities Committee this fall. If you are interested in participating in the political process to support your colleagues and higher education in Florida, please contact the Membership Committee Chair, Art Shapiro.


Florida's state budget comes in three parts: General Revenue, which is money the Legislature can play with at will; Trust Funds, which is money the legislature can touch only with difficulty, and Federal Funds, which have strings attached. This year, the Legislature allocated $ 26.8 billion in General Revenue (up 8.5 %), Trust Funds provided $ 21.2 billion (up 4.0 %), and Uncle Sam coughed up $ 26.4 billion (up 6.4 %). That's $ 74.5 billion altogether.

Of that, Education got $ 20.3 billion, up 7.7 %. For K-12 students, the Florida Education Finance Program funding was $ 6,779 per student, up 6.34 %. On the other hand, utility tax revenue is falling: people are watching less cable and using less electricity. Utility taxes go to the Public Education Capital Outlay (PECO) fund, which thus went down to $ 177 million: a quarter of the pot went to the universities, a quarter went to the colleges, and the other half went to ... charter schools.

Last year, the universities received $ 1.7 billion from student tuition and fees, $ 1.5 billion from the state, $ 200 million from gambling, and pocket change from various trust funds, receiving just over $ 3.4 billion altogether. This year, the legislature decided to give us our $ 300 million back, and then came up with pages of line items adding up to $ 300 million more, bringing the total allocation to just over four billion dollars.

Meanwhile, last year the colleges received $ 1.07 billion from the state, and adding tuition that gave the college system $ 1.92 billion. This year the legislature allocated $ 1.12 billion, so with tuition the college system expects just about two billion dollars flat.

The growing economy helped a lot, that and the realization (which FEA reminded legislators incessantly) that the key to Florida's future is education. There was also a lot of political interest in (STEM) research. There were a number of smaller items. For example, Bright Futures was cut 9 %, and increases in other financial assistance programs do not make up the difference.

On a personal note, Governor Scott had proposed that each teacher get a raise of $ 2,500. The legislation would up providing $ 480 million for raises for all state and public employees; in theory, almost all will receive a raise of at least $ 1,000 apiece. USF is working now on how this applies to us.

For more details, see the Florida Senate press release.

Some Bills That Passed

Only 1,844 bills were proposed, the least since 2004; of these, 286 were passed by both houses and sent to the governor.

The Legislature had a seizure of fiscal responsibility, and for the first time in years, they ponied up their full obligation to the Florida Retirement System; they had been underpaying for years (hey, they're the Legislature - they can do what they want), which is one of the reasons for the talk about the FRS's long term stability. Senate Bill 1810 is a step in the right direction.

The "sales tax holiday" runs from August 2 to August 4 this year, and covers clothing and accessories of at most $ 75 each, and school items of at most $ 15 each. It also covers many computer-like items (book readers, laptops, handheld's, tablets, even towers, but not cell phones, video game consoles or media receivers) of up to $ 750 each. Incidentally, the title of this bill is Economic Development.

Virtue is increasingly fashionable, and House Bill 569 eliminates one of the more notorious kinds of bribe-er-contribution laundromats, the Committees of Continuous Existence. It also imposes a number of disclosure and reporting requirements. The price for these reforms was to raise the caps on campaign contributions to candidates and to political committees - and also to give candidates more freedom to play with surplus funds.

In addition, the Legislature passed bills giving schools more authority to deal with cyberbullying (or to make a spectacle of themselves doing so), creating two high school diploma tracks, one for college and one for "industrial certifications" (this bill also creates the Preeminent Research University Program), and provides for "qualified contractors" to propose rules for, and provide and administer, online courses and assessments.

Some Bills That Failed

The Florida Education Association led the sometimes lonely battle against Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford's campaign to eviscerate the Florida Retirement System. Early in the session, the pundits and the politicians agreed that Weatherford's bill to convert our retirement system into an IRA was unstoppable, and that the only hope was something like Wilton Simpson's compromise. But the FEA held firm, and we won this one. The FRS still stands, and hopefully this is a sign that the tide has turned on the war on our retirement system. Yet the Legislative Leadership is still optimistic: take a look at this photo of Governor Scott and the Leadership celebrating in front of their top five agenda items: four checkmarks, and under "FRS Reform" it says, in small type, "To be continued ..."

By the way, did you see the announcement about donating to UFF's PAC in the left column?

Also failed were the "Parent Trigger Bill", which could have enabled private companies to more readily replace public schools with their own enterprises, and a bill that could have provided said companies with confidential information about students, which would have allowed companies to market their services more directly.

Your friendly neighborhood unions at work. This summer, we will be organizing a Political Activities Committee for the USF Chapter of the UFF, to help prepare this fall and to help educate the Legislature next spring. Anyone UFF member interested in participating is invited to contact our Membership Chair, Art Shapiro. And if you aren't a member, join today: we need all the help we can get.


Chapter Meeting tomorrow Friday, May 31, at 12 noon at CDB Italian Restaurant just east of USF Tampa at 5104 Fowler Ave.

There will be free pizza, salad, and beer. All UFF members are invited to attend. Non-members are also invited to come and check us out. Come and join the movement.

Membership: Everyone in the UFF USF System Bargaining unit is eligible for UFF membership: to join, simply fill out and send in the membership form.

NOTE: The USF-UFF Chapter website is http://www.uff.ourusf.org, and our e-mail address is uff@ourusf.org.

About this broadcast: This Newsletter was broadcast from uff.ourusf.org, hosted at ICDsoft.com, and is intended for all members of the UFF USF Bargaining unit (USF faculty and professionals at most departments). A (usually identical) version will be broadcast to USF-News and USF-Talk from mccolm@usf.edu.

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