Governor's Budget Poses Challenge
The appropriations recommended for the next two fiscal years by Gov. John G. Rowland reflect increases over this year's appropriatio n, but fall short of the amounts needed to maintain current services.
"We understand the inevitability of limited state support, given the enormous economic pressures the state is facing," said President Philip E. Austin.
For the Storrs-based programs, the budgets are $197.7 million for the year that begins in July 2004, and $202.1 million for the budget that takes effect in July 2005. The figures represent an increase of $5.2 million, or 2.7 percent, for FY '04 and $4.4 million, or 2.2 percent, for FY '05. The budget for this year, after several cuts that have been made since last July, totals $192.5 million.
The FY '04 appropriation is $13.6 million, including fringe benefits, less than current services; and the FY '05 budget is $22.4 million (including fringe benefits) less than what is needed to maintain the state's share of current services.
For the Health Center, the budgets are $75.1 million for the year that begins in July 2004, and $80.8 million for the budget that takes effect in July 2005. These represent an increase of $1.3 million, or 1.8 percent, in FY '04 and $1.5 million, or1.9 percent, for FY '05. The budget for this year, after the cuts made since last July, totals $73.8 million.
The Health Center's FY '04 budget is $3.3 million, including fringe benefits, less than current services and the FY '05 budget is $5.9 million, including fringe benefits, less than current services.
The budget shortfall creates an enormous challenge for the University, because nearly the entire state appropriation is used for salaries. "It will not be easy for the University to accommodate the current services reductions in the proposed budget," said Austin. "Frankly, without the pending agreement with the American Association of University Professors, we would now be facing a very bleak scenario. Even with the commitment of the AAUP membership, however, non-faculty staff reductions and program adjustments are unavoidable."
The AAUP membership was voting at press time last week on a proposal that would eliminate a 5 percent raise this July and extend the contract for a year, in return for assurances that layoffs would be limited to programmatic changes. The agreement must also be approved by the Board of Trustees, expected to vote on March 11, and the General Assembly.
The budget also defers the state's matching program for private contributions to the endowment fund. The matching funds, which provided 50 cents for every $1 contributed, are strategically important both to the University's $300 million capital campaign and to its endowment growth.
Austin said the budget has a few bright spots, including the governor's continued support for both UConn 2000 and the $1.3 billion 21st Century UConn program, even though virtually all other state capital projects are being delayed, reduced, or eliminated.
The governor's proposed reorganization of higher education, which merges the Department of Higher Education, the Connecticut State University system, and the Community College system into a new Board of Regents, does not affect UConn.
"We take heart in the governor's recognition of the unique role of the University and will work with the Legislature to maintain the momentum they reaffirmed with the enactment of 21st Century UConn," Austin said.
Preliminary numbers indicate that the state's contribution to financial aid will not increase next year.
The Corrections Managed Health Care program, administered by the Health Center, will receive five percent increases in both FY '04 and FY '05. However, the appropriation for this program of $77 million for FY '04 is still $2.6 million less than requested, and the FY '05 appropriation of $80.8 million is $2.4 million less than requested. "There may be a continuing shortfall related to collective bargaining increases in the Department of Corrections program," Austin said.
He also noted that there appears to be some reduction in bond funds that were scheduled to be available to the Health Center prior to the beginning of the 21st Century UConn program.
University officials will continue to analyze the proposed budget, including possible adjustments by the General Assembly, prior to final approval.