Legislature passes budget, UConn takes cuts


State Rep. Doug Dubinsky holds a copy of the 881-page budget bill and speaks about the lack of time to read it before a vote, Thursday, Oct. 26, 2017 at the Statehouse in Hartford, Conn. The budget bill went on to pass 126-23. (Mark Mirko/The Courant via AP)

The Connecticut State Senate and House of Representatives voted Thursday to pass a state budget that cuts funding to the University of Connecticut by $143 million over the next two years.

“With respect to funding for UConn, this budget is without question an improvement over what was approved in September, which contained a $309 million reduction that would have been catastrophic for the university,” UConn spokesperson Stephanie Reitz told NBC Connecticut.

Reitz said that, though UConn is relieved the $309 million cut was avoided, the $143 million cut is still “very significant” and “will have an impact.”

“We are currently reviewing the document to determine if language contained elsewhere in the budget could result in even deeper cuts to the university than the appropriation number shows,” Reitz said.

UConn president Susan Herbst said in an email to students and faculty that the $143 million budget cut is “clearly a far better outcome” than the budget that passed the legislature in September, but that it is “still a very steep reduction.”

“We will contend with this round of cuts as we have contended with previous cuts over the last several years,” Herbst said in the email.

Herbst said the university will put a “prudent and strategic” freeze on hiring, delay certain expansion projects, restructure administrative functions and departments and reduce services that, “while positive and beneficial, are not essential to the academic mission.”

“Managing budget reductions is painful, but straightforward; there is no hidden financial resource we can tap and there is no non-specific “fat” or other low-hanging fruit that can be eliminated to solve our problems. Nor can the university simply turn to philanthropy or external grants to shore up our operating budget. Those funds cannot legally be used for that purpose,” Herbst said.

Herbst said she is grateful to Gov. Dannel Malloy and the General Assembly for supporting a scaled-back reduction to UConn and for their support of UConn in the long term.

“We know that when the state’s leaders approve budgets that reduce funding for UConn, they are only doing so because they must close wide deficits in the state budget, not because they believe cutting UConn is good public policy or good for the state of Connecticut,” Herbst said.

The State Senate passed the budget just before 2 a.m. with a vote of 33-3 and the House of Representatives passed it at around 12:45 p.m. with a vote of 126-23.

Malloy has not yet indicated if he will approve the budget, but the General Assembly currently has enough votes for an override if he vetoes it.

Gabriella Debenedictis is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at gabriella.debenedictis@uconn.edu.

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