Students head to capitol to speak against budget cuts

Former USG president Rachel Conboy attends a meeting of the appropriations committee at the Connecticut state capitol on February 10th, 2016. Members of USG will visit the capitol on Wednesday. (Amar Batra/The Daily Campus)

A group of University of Connecticut students will speak out against state funding cuts to their university at the state capitol on Wednesday afternoon.

Gov. Dannel Malloy’s proposed state budget for the next two fiscal years, released on Feb. 8, would leave UConn with 7 percent less in state funding (about $16.5 million) for fiscal years 2018 and 2019 than it had for fiscal year 2017.

UConn’s Undergraduate Student Government President Daniel Byrd and external affairs chair Haley Hinton have made arrangements to lead a group of 60 to 70 students on a bus to the state capitol in Hartford. They expect to meet with more students, faculty and community members at the capitol.

Fourteen students and community members will testify before the state Appropriations Committee on behalf of UConn, Byrd said. The testifiers (the names of whom have not been released) will include honors students, students who have benefitted from financial aid and a business leader who have all benefitted from state funding at UConn.

“An investment in UConn is an investment in the state,” Byrd said. “Students aren’t just graduating, we’re also paying taxes and setting up roots.”

The cuts in state funding are likely to mean fewer programs and/or higher costs to students, Byrd said. However, both Byrd and UConn President Susan Herbst have expressed that they were prepared for deeper cuts.

“The governor’s budget proposes substantial cuts for both UConn and UConn Health,” Herbst said. “At the same time, the proposed cuts could have been much deeper and we are grateful for every penny the state is able to provide during these difficult budget years. We will have to analyze how damaging the proposed cuts would be for the university.”

Herbst and other university officials will speak before the Appropriations Committee Wednesday morning, UConn spokeswoman Stephanie Reitz said.

“It’s tough when the cuts aren’t as bad as you expect,” Byrd said. “Anything at all is bad, but when you’re expecting 10 percent and you get 7 percent, you’re torn between feeling relieved and feeling upset.”

Byrd said he’s testified before the committee during each of his four years at UConn. He believes that the students’ testimony has helped emphasize the importance of state funding to UConn and led to better outcomes for its budget.

“It’s been successful every year,” Byrd said. “It’s just frustrating that we have to do it every year.”


Christopher McDermott is the news editor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at christopher.mcdermott@uconn.edu.