Parties split over higher education funding in next fiscal year’s budget

Connecticut Republicans' budget proposal for the next fiscal year will cut UConn funding by $37 million, while the Democrats' proposal will flat-fund UConn. ( jglazer75 /Creative Commons)

Connecticut Republicans' budget proposal for the next fiscal year will cut UConn funding by $37 million, while the Democrats' proposal will flat-fund UConn. (jglazer75/Creative Commons)

Connecticut Republicans’ budget proposal cuts the University of Connecticut’s funding by $37 million next fiscal year, while the Democrats’ proposal flat-funds the university. 

Lawmakers from both parties unveiled their budget proposals for the next fiscal year last week, according to the Connecticut Mirror. The Democrats and Republicans have allocated differing amounts of funding to UConn and other institutions of public higher education. 

“The Republican budget targets the University of Connecticut for a $37 million cut- an 11 percent reduction. The UConn Health Center would lose $29 million- a 15 percent cut,” the Mirror said.  “These cuts are on top of similarly large cuts imposed over the previous two fiscal years.” 

Republicans proposed requiring professors teach one extra course per semester and requiring the health center privatize services by the next fiscal year to achieve the cuts, according to the Mirror.

 Their proposal also cuts funding to the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities (CSCU) system, which is made up of Connecticut’s four public universities and 12 community colleges, by $18.4 million, the Mirror said. 

The Democrats proposed flat-funding UConn and cutting UConn Health’s budget by $2.5 million, according to the Mirror. The $2.5 million cut aims to realize additional savings due to the center no longer managing health care for inmates. 

The Democrats’ proposal would increase funding to CSCU’s state universities by $4.1 million while cutting funding to its community colleges by $3.5 million, the Mirror said. 

“Separate from these changes, the budget would launch a new $5 million initiative -- ‘Free 2 Start’ -- that would help students pay for college,” the Mirror said. 

The Republicans’ proposal would spend $20.4 billion to fund the state, while the Democrats’ proposal would spend almost $20.9 billion, according to the Mirror.

The two parties are split on the issue of transportation as well, with the Democrats proposing the state allocate $26 million more to the Special Transportation Fund than the Republicans’ proposal, the Mirror said. 

The parties found common ground on an Educational Cost Sharing grant program, recommending it be $86.5 million larger than the current fiscal year, according to the Mirror.

 House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz (D-Berlin) told the Mirror that Democrats were able to put forth budget adjustments that reflect the values and needs of Connecticut residents despite “facing obvious election year tactics.” 

“We now have a firm basis to work from, and we all share the responsibility of making adjustments to the bipartisan budget, so that is what we will continue to work toward in the coming weeks,” Aresimowicz said. 

House Minority Leader Themis Klarides (R-Derby) told the Mirror that the party welcomes any and all budget ideas. 

“(Klarides said) she hopes the legislature will move ‘closer to adopting an updated fiscal year 2019 budget that is balanced, that protects funding for core services, that creates stability and predictability for our state and that avoids the devastating cuts and tax increases proposed by the governor,” the Mirror said. 

Lawmakers are hoping to reach an agreement before the legislative session ends on May 9, according to the Mirror. 


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