In case you haven’t noticed, there’s an election coming up in four weeks and a day. This vote will be incredibly important for the people of Connecticut, as our choices will determine the direction of the state for the foreseeable future. The gubernatorial race between Democrat Ned Lamont and Republican Bob Stefanowski is perhaps the most important in the state this cycle, and is certainly shaping up to be one of the most competitive in the country. As such, it is imperative to analyze their policies (or lack thereof) as they pertain to higher education in Connecticut and how each candidate will likely affect UConn.
First and foremost, we should consider what effect each candidate will have on funding for UConn. At the recent UConn debate, Stefanowski committed to disciplined spending at the college level and diminished tuition costs. Lamont also talked about the importance of college affordability.
Both candidates talk a good game, so we need to look at state history on the issue. The last time negotiations occurred regarding the state budget, Dannel Malloy vetoed a number of proposals that had significantly slashed UConn funding. These cuts primarily derived from Republican efforts in the state legislature.
You may hate Dannel Malloy, but he and other Democrats who eventually worked out a compromise are the reason we still have the funding levels we do, reduced as they may be. Stefanowski’s proposals to cut taxes and government spending don’t exactly instill a great deal of confidence about money being available for the funding of UConn and other colleges around the state.
On other issues pertaining to college students, Lamont repeatedly stressed his desire to collaborate with businesses in the state and match university graduates with suitable career opportunities based on their education and skill set.
A significant portion of the “Issues” section of his website discusses his plans to partner colleges and businesses. He also favors some free tuition programs for in-state residents who commit to staying in the state.
A college lecturer himself, it is evident that Lamont understands the problems students face and that the betterment of college students and recent graduates is something he believes in strongly.
On the other hand, Stefanowski has a comparatively short section on retaining graduates. He simply identifies that there is a problem with graduates leaving the state but does not offer specific ideas on how to achieve this other than building businesses and growing the economy in Connecticut to bring in more jobs. He also makes no mention of making college more affordable.
History often predicts the future. The history of Republican budgets is one of massive cuts for UConn. Democrats, even Dannel Malloy, have proven time and again that they will fight strongly for the well-being of UConn and other colleges in the state. Based on this history and the proposals of each candidate, it is clear that Ned Lamont is the gubernatorial candidate who will best work to meet UConn’s needs.