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Rep. Cruz: Alexander targeted USF

 As the Senate budget committee discusses its $400 million in cuts proposed to the state university system, more lawmakers are coming out in support of the University of South Florida, which says it's being hit with a disproportionate share. 

Sen. Jim Norman, R-Tampa, spoke out harshly against the cuts at the committee meeting today. Sens. Paula Dockery and Mike Fasano, Republicans from Lakeland and New Port Richey, issued a joint statment yesterday opposing the cuts. Rep. Will Weatherford, R- Wesley Chapel, speaker designate, said he would not let the cuts happen. Now Rep. Janet Cruz, also from Tampa, says it seems budget chair Sen. JD Alexander targeted USF in a "vindictive budget proposal."

Here's the full statement:

TALLAHASSEE -- "Senate Republican leaders have proposed devastating funding cuts to the University of South Florida. A Senate budget proposal calls for more than $100 million in cuts to USF, a reduction of nearly 60 percent.

"While all of Florida's public universities would suffer under the proposed budget, the cuts aimed at USF are 25 percent greater than those aimed at any other Florida school. In my view, Senator J.D. Alexander, the Senate budget chairman, has clearly targeted USF. It is disappointing that some of his colleagues in the Senate approved his vindictive budget proposal.

"Today, I call on members of the Florida House of Representatives to stand up in bipartisan fashion and defend the University of South Florida.

"I am hosting today three USF students who have arrived in Tallahassee to voice their concerns about the budget proposed by Senate Republican leaders. These students, along with my two interns who also attend USF, have echoed the concerns raised by USF President Judy Genshaft about the potential devastation the university could soon face.

"As it concerns USF, the Florida House must stand firm against the proposed devastating Senate budget and the threat that it brings to USF and the entire state of Florida."