Governor Ned Lamont is expected to include a budget cut estimated to be $160 million to the University of Connecticut’s FY24 funding and an estimated $200 million cut to UConn’s FY25 funding in his annual state budget proposal to be announced Wednesday at noon, according to UConn President Radenka Maric
Maric spoke about the reported budget cuts in Professor Mike Stanton’s Newswriting I course to take questions on the record, saying the UConn budget is “students first, UConn always, Huskies forever.” According to university spokesperson Stephanie Reitz, all recent UConn presidents have taken questions on the record in a similar context before.
Maric said UConn may pull out of the current deal with the XL Center in Hartford as a pushback against the potential budget cuts. She discussed how the existing dynamic with the XL Center benefits local businesses, but the costs associated with this relationship would not be prioritized over academic quality.
“We play at the XL Center, and we pay to play there, so the money that we generate there doesn’t go to us and athletics, it goes to Connecticut… When I go and talk to owners of the restaurants, hotels and the parking lots, they say that [their] business only spikes when UConn is playing in Hartford, and that’s when they generate revenue,” Maric said. “So, I was telling the governor, if there is a cut that I have to do, I’m not going to put the cuts on academic quality, I will do the cuts and make the decision to pull out of the XL.”
According to Reitz, all non-academic expenses will be affected by potential budgeting changes. In particular, she reemphasized that the current dynamic with the XL Center may change.
““You’ve heard the news that [the state wants] to do the tax cut, so it is not that they don’t value UConn, but they want to take money away…”Radenka Maric, University of Connecticut President
“If that is the case, all non-academic expenses will be on the table, including the financial model associated with holding our games at the XL Center,” Reitz said in an email interview with the Daily Campus.
Reitz went on to provide context regarding the costs for UConn teams to play at both the XL Center and Pratt & Whitney Stadium for the 2021-2022 academic year. She said UConn spent approximately $4 million competing in these arenas, with particular fees associated with playing at the XL Center.
“That includes $40,500 in rent per basketball game, and $20,500 per men’s hockey game at the XL Center,” Reitz wrote. “UConn is also charged an average of $20,000 to $30,000 per game in ticket surcharges, resulting in a total cost per basketball game of $60,000 to $70,000.”
Reitz then explained that UConn also does not receive concession proceeds or other forms of income typical for many other institutions in similar situations. She said UConn, with a different deal, could generate millions of dollars if its basketball, hockey and football teams competed under different systems.
“UConn also does not receive concession proceeds and other forms of income available to most of its competitors,” Reitz wrote. “The University would generate millions in estimated additional revenue if UConn basketball, hockey, and football competed under the structure more typical of its competitor institutions.”
Maric said, should this budget cut be put into effect, the first departments to receive cuts will be operations, which manages campus facilities. She claimed the intended budget cuts are related to the intent of the state government to provide a $336 million tax cut for CT residents.
“You’ve heard the news that [the state wants] to do the tax cut, so it is not that they don’t value UConn, but they want to take money away…” Maric said.
““The Governor and General Assembly obviously will not finalize an agreement on the state budget until much later this year, so UConn does not know what its future budget situation will be.”Stephanie Reitz, University of Connecticut Spokesperson
Maric went on to explain that she; Jeffrey Geoghegan, CFO of UConn Health and Bruce Liang, Interim CFO of UConn Health, expect to testify against the cuts on Feb. 15. According to Reitz, after the Governor releases his budget proposal, state agencies are tasked with addressing the state appropriations committee on how the budget will affect their services. Times for these hearings will be set aside by the committee for UConn and UConn Health.
Reitz explained that, since the final agreement on the state budget will not be decided until later in the year, UConn does not currently know how future budgeting may change.
“The Governor and General Assembly obviously will not finalize an agreement on the state budget until much later this year, so UConn does not know what its future budget situation will be,” Reitz wrote.
Maric, in speaking to Stanton’s class, highlighted four main values of UConn for the state of CT: increasing application demand, a low time-to-degree of 4.1 years, $160 million in financial support with an intended increase of $10 for FY24 and over half of UConn grads from 2016 to 2022 who sought employment remaining in the state for their work. She told the class that, despite the proposed budget cuts, UConn does not intend to decrease financial aid.
“We are not going to cut financial aid,” Maric told the class.