Proposal calls for $17 million in new state funding cuts at UConn

House Minority Leader Themis Klarides, R-Derby, answers questions from the media during a press conference at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford Tuesday. The university could face $17 million in additional state funding cuts if the Republican plan is approved. (Kyle Constable/The Daily Campus)

HARTFORD — Republican leaders in the state legislature unveiled a budget deficit mitigation plan Tuesday that would cut an additional $17 million state funding from the University of Connecticut and the UConn Health Center in the current fiscal year.

Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has indicated he will sign the plan if it reaches his desk.

The proposed cuts, which include a $9 million reduction at UConn and a $7 million reduction at the UConn Health Center, come as a result of the state’s $220 million projected deficit in the current fiscal year. The Republican plan would cut $33 million in total from all public colleges and universities in the state.

Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano, R-North Haven, and House Minority Leader Themis Klarides, R-Derby, unveiled the Republican deficit mitigation plan at a press conference Tuesday, urging legislators to take action within the next 10 days.

Under the proposal, most items in the state budget would face a 15 percent, across-the-board cut. The plan would also cut legislators’ salaries by 10 percent.

Klarides said these cuts are only necessary because Democrats refused to address the issues earlier on.

“It’s extremely challenging to fix a budget with only a few months left in the year, which is why Republicans asked Democrats to work together at the start of the year to address our imminent deficit,” Klarides said. “By now, most money has already been spent. This deficit mitigation package enables us to make the most of remaining state funding with targeted cuts, cuts to the legislature and preservation of the most vital state services.”

Devon Puglia, a spokesman for Malloy, said while the governor opposes certain cuts in the proposal – including the cuts to higher education – “our new economic reality demands that we all make compromises in order to reduce overall spending.”

“This is an honest effort,” Puglia said. “If this plan or one like it were negotiated and passed by the General Assembly, the governor would sign it.”

Under the Republican proposal, the university would face $8.3 million in cuts to its operating expenses and another $727,500 in cuts to the Next Generation Connecticut program. Without any cuts, the state is set to provide the university with $55.6 million more for its operating expenses and an additional $4.85 million for Next Generation Connecticut by the end of June.

The plan would also cut $6.4 million from UConn Health’s budget and another $781,250 from UConn Health’s bioscience funding.

The university is currently monitoring the proposal, according to university spokeswoman Stephanie Reitz.

“UConn is actively engaged in the budget process and working hard at every opportunity to advocate for the university’s state appropriation, which is so critical to maintaining the high quality of education offered to our students,” Reitz said.