... are happening in Florida
I'm of about three minds on this bit... and none of this is specific to the Florida situation...
1) What research faculty "produce", in terms of teaching is often minimal. So, trying to balance tuition vs. salary isn't the kind of math most research faculty like to do. So, if the purpose of the institution is teaching -- many of them don't do much of that, so letting them go makes sense. Once a faculty member has tenure, they may decide that they don't want to publish... If the purpose of the institution is research -- then letting go folks who aren't "producing" research makes sense.
2) A small number of hot-shot research faculty have negotiated pretty high salaries -- they do it by getting outside offers, which puts pressure on their institution not to lose them. This means that they earn a lot of money -- and thus can become easy targets. Multiple studies have shown that men tend to be more aggressive in salary negotiations... so, they are easier targets.
3) MANY regular tenured faculty have given up higher salaries outside academia for the security of tenure. When a person with a Ph.D. takes a tenure-track position starting at $40,000 -- (after 8-10 years of college), they clearly aren't valuing money. In some disciplines, (like philosophy) this is probably the best they can do -- but, in disciplines with "industry" options -- clearly security is being bought with lower salary. To have universities take that security away sucks.