On Tuesday, Governor Dannel Malloy signed the vast majority of the budget passed by the Connecticut General Assembly into law. The governor used his line-item veto powers to reject a new hospital tax that he felt had legal and structural flaws, but beyond this issue Connecticut finally has a budget. The new budget contains cuts of $143 million to the University of Connecticut over the next 2 years, down from the original $300 million in cuts included in the original budget vetoed by Malloy.
Everyone at UConn should be very pleased that these cuts were reduced by so much. Many different groups, from the UConn administration to the student body to our state representative Greg Haddad and state senator Mae Flexer, worked long and hard to get these cuts down. These groups wouldn’t have even had the opportunity to fight for more funding if Governor Malloy had not vetoed the budget in the first place; he certainly played a critical role as well. However, UConn President Susan Herbst conscientiously noted in an email to students that while the current budget is a far better outcome, this is still a significant reduction, outlaying several steps UConn would be taking to deal with cuts.
UConn originally planned for $100 million in cuts, so starting from that metric an extra $43 million is almost a 50% increase. This is not pocket change, $43 million is still a huge number and we can’t lull ourselves into believing that this won’t bring about significant changes that affect students. The student body, and specifically the Undergraduate Student Government, needs to remain vigilant and fight to ensure that these cuts have a minimal effect on students. That not only means advocating against tuition increases, but fighting to keep housing affordable, maintain scholarships that help students attend UConn, and much more.
While UConn students should be vigilant, the UConn Administration needs to take a long, hard look at how they are spending money. Past cuts have hit students hard in regards to rising fees, and the university must make sure it explores every option when it comes to dealing with costs. They have already started this with the items included in President Herbst’s email, but UConn students deserve a more detailed and thorough outline on how the university plans to cut costs. If UConn does feel costs must be raised for students, they should let them know as soon as possible so students can adjust properly.