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January 17, 2013

Strapped for cash to build, university presidents urge lawmakers for relief

Those energy efficient appliances and flat screen TVs bought in the last few years by Florida consumers are a real drag for state schools.

Energy consumption is one of the things that finances Florida’s gross receipts tax, which has paid $8.6 billion for school capital costs since 2004. The problem is that, while tax revenue dropped in the last few years mostly because of the economy, much of it won’t ever come back because of the more efficient way we use electricity.

During Thursday’s House Appropriations Committee meeting, Chairman Seth McKeel, R-Lakeland, devoted 90 minutes to what state educators are calling a growing problem.

“The crisis is here,” said Judy Bense, president of the University of West Florida. “The money won’t come back in a long time. We have to move on and find a new way to do things.”

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