The state of Connecticut is in a tough spot. The population is falling, businesses are moving out and the economic growth that some regions are experiencing is completely missing us. In response, Gov. Ned Lamont proposed a budget with — among other cuts — $2 million less allocated to the University of Connecticut than we originally expected.
To be clear, UConn will still have a higher budget next year. But the original allotted amount will not be what we end up getting should this budget go through. In response, the Undergraduate Student Government and other student leaders have protested this proposed move. This has culminated in students from UConn and other Connecticut schools speaking out at the appropriations committee meeting on Tuesday.
To juniors and seniors on campus, this situation is superficially reminiscent of the infamous “$300 million” cut to UConn proposed in 2017. That time, it was proposed that well over $100 million per year be cut from UConn’s budget over the following two years. It was only through the concerted effort of UConn and the community that this terrible idea was quashed to a much lower cut.
Of course, the current situation is different in a few ways. This time, the cut proposal comes from the governor, not the state legislature. It’s also much smaller, almost inconsequential in comparison. Finally, this cut comes along with a $33 million infusion of money for UConn Health. While UConn is important, UConn Health is arguably just as important for the wellbeing of the state, and this influx of funds allows for the struggling system to continue its essential operations.
However, it’s also important to note that these cuts come at a time when the problems with poor funding are as apparent as ever. In particular, mental health facilities at UConn have been getting a lot of heat recently for their inability to keep up with demand for services from students.
So, is this a big deal? Well, these cuts in isolation aren’t. UConn will be able to continue its essential functions without much issue even with $2 million less than it expected. We still have plenty of funds for all the parts of UConn we love. In the context of Connecticut’s recent moves, though, it’s fair to be concerned. Education is only effective when it is of high quality. Connecticut may very well be forced into making hard choices to balance its budget. Lamont is certainly in an unenviable position here, but it’s concerning (to say the least) that the quality of its flagship is always first on the chopping block.
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