Letter about budget from Tom Auxter

A letter to all UFF members from statewide UFF President Tom Auxter:

Dear Colleague:

It worked! The campaign to contact legislators, which started in February and ended today, delivered results in funding for higher education. We know that cuts in higher education are always the first knee-jerk reaction from politicians when there is a recession. But faculty were ready and already contacting legislators about the funding crisis we faced a month before the legislative session began. We sent emails and made phone calls to deliver the message from constituents. We built a coalition, held rallies, and joined forces with students to expand the base for legislative contacts.

At the beginning of the session higher education was threatened with a half-billion dollar budget cut by the House, which would have meant at least a 10% cut in budgets already strained to the limits. At that point we focused on the House members who could be pivotal in creating change, and we got the result we needed: the House matched the Senate budget providing roughly the same funding we have in this year’s budget, when the stimulus dollars are added.

Special thanks to the government relations staff at the Florida Education Association for the coaching that enabled us to do this. Our success in the House was also due in large measure to help from the UFF members we helped elect to the House — Bill Heller, Keith Fitzgerald, and Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda. They used every opportunity to make the case to other legislators that cuts would cause severe and irreversible damage to the economic engine of the state and to the future of students in Florida.

Next year we will face another funding challenge from the Legislature. But we have learned how to win against seemingly overwhelming odds, and we have managed to educate enough legislators about the value of what we do that we will have a head start in the process.

Thanks for your sustained support through the last three months. To nail down our victory for next year, ask a non-union member to join UFF. With the full support of every faculty member, we will prevail in the difficult times ahead.


Tom Auxter
United Faculty of Florida


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