HARTFORD — University of Connecticut students and administrators filled the halls of the State Capitol Wednesday for the school’s annual Husky Day, at which university leaders called on the state to reduce proposed funding cuts for the next fiscal year.
The event drew many state legislators to the university showcase in the Old Judiciary Committee Room. Some admitted they were just dropping by for the free Dairy Bar ice cream.
The showcase proved to be as much a celebration as an advocacy event, with students exhibiting projects after being recognized in both the House and Senate chambers.
Legislators are debating whether to reduce, sustain or increase state funding cuts to the university in the 2017 fiscal year, which begins in July.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s proposed budget in February and his newly revised budget released Tuesday called for $31.2 million in state funding cuts to the university for the next fiscal year. It remained unchanged between now and February despite the state needing to cut an additional $352 million in total, which left UConn President Susan Herbst feeling “grateful.”
“We’ve got a ways to go,” Herbst said. “As our government affairs people would tell you, in these last couple of weeks a lot of things are going to change, a lot of things are going to happen. So, we’re relieved on that, but it’s not over yet.”
Herbst said the university is feeling more comfortable about its fiscal situation – at least for the next few months. She said that temporary financial security played a role in deciding not to raise mandatory student fees at the university in the upcoming academic year. However, she said the situation for the next fiscal year remains “worrisome.”
The Undergraduate Student Government external affairs committee organized the event. Committee chairman Dan Byrd said he hoped it had an impact on legislators, adding that students at the university want “everything on the table” in budget discussions – including tax increases to reduce the need for some spending cuts.