TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Hillsborough County Commissioners want leaders in the Florida Legislature to oppose a budget proposal that includes sharp spending cuts for the University of South Florida.

A Senate budget proposal would cut funding to the Tampa university by 60 percent, or about $104 million. Commissioners say the cuts would force faculty layoffs, much larger class sizes and hurt the school’s status as a major research university.

The proposed cuts are far greater than recommended for any other university in Florida. Critics say politics are at work — specifically, state Sen. J.D. Alexander’s efforts to establish a separate Florida Polytechnic University out of USF’s Lakeland campus.

Alexander is a Lakes Wales Republican and the Senate budget chief.

Commissioners voted Tuesday to send letters to legislative leaders asking them to oppose the proposal.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

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