Conservative Think Tanks Score Big In Proposed Florida Higher Ed Budget

Alexa Schwerha 

The Florida Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee (HEAS) reserved millions of dollars in funding for several conservative think tanks, according to a copy of its 2023-2024 budget proposal.

The HEAS released its $7.4 billion budget proposed on Tuesday and includes specific funding for several conservative initiatives at Florida universities, its document reveals. The budget works in funding for University of Florida’s (UF) Hamilton Center for Classical & Civic Education and the Adam Smith Center for the Study of Economic Freedom at Florida International University (FIU).

The Adam Smith Center is slated to receive $5 million while the Hamilton Center would receive $10 million, according to the document. The budget sets aside $15 million for “operational support” at the New College of Florida (NCF), which was requested by Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis during a press conference on higher education in January.

DeSantis took aim at NCF by appointing six conservative members to its Board of Trustees early this year. The board terminated former NCF President Patricia Okker during its Jan. 31 meeting, disbanded its Diversity, Equity and Inclusion office in late February and replaced a provost who stepped down from her position on Monday.

The Adam Smith Center for the Study of Economic Freedom was established by the Florida Legislature and DeSantis in 2020 and “is a world-class, independent, non-partisan think tank that aims to inform, influence, and inspire current and future leaders to develop and implement innovative, meaningful, and effective policies to advance economic and individual freedom and human prosperity,” according to its website.

The Hamilton Center aims to “help students develop the knowledge, habits of thought, analytical skills, and character to be citizens and leaders in a free society,” its description reads.

The proposed budget also includes $2.5 million for career and technical education programs, according to the document. It would provide $100 million to the Florida College System Program Fund, $50 million for a State University System Performance-Based Recruitment and Retention Initiative and stock away nearly $1 billion in financial aid.

The budget reflects a 42% increase in per-student spending, according to Florida Politics.

HEAS did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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