University chiefs hope a tax on casino gambling will help stop a brain drain of teaching staff.
Florida educators say £33.5 million extra is needed this year to give staff statewide a four per cent “golden handcuffs” pay deal.
And the state government is already facing a demand for a five per cent rise in funding simply to allow universities to pay for heating and lighting.
But Florida as a whole faces a $1.5 BILLION deficit in its budget as the state experiences a “perfect storm” of tumbling house prices, tightening credit and torturous energy price rises.
Now University of Florida President Bernie Machen has suggested the problem could be solved in the long term by a tax on casino gambling — even though casinos are ILLEGAL in the southern state.
While Florida does not have legalized land-based casino gambling, a fleet of large and small ships literally offer an off-shore outlet for punters.
They include thousands of Brits who have made the “Sunshine State” the prime holiday destination on the other side of the pond.
In addition, there are five Native Indian gaming locations even though there is no state-tribal agreement in effect as in most other US states.
Critics argue that college funding is kept artificially depressed by low tuition fees which they want means-tested.
“We’ve got students driving around in Cadillacs and Porches and everything else because they don’t have any cost,” said UF Trustee Al Warrington.