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Governor's budget reflects dire economy

by Richard Veilleux - February 9, 2009


Budget recommendations announced Feb. 4 by Gov. M. Jodi Rell, if approved by the General Assembly, could cause a potential shortfall in state support for the Storrs-based programs of more than $55 million over the next biennium.

The governor’s recommendations, says Chief Financial Officer Richard Gray, equate to a 9.2 percent reduction in state support needed to maintain currently provided services in the 2010 fiscal year, and 13.1 percent in fiscal year 2011.

The governor’s recommendation for the UConn Health Center – one of the few agencies to realize a budget increase in the governor’s recommendation – still falls $6.6 million and $12 million short of the funding levels needed to maintain current services in the next two years.

The governor’s budget recommendations “reflect the extremely severe economic conditions which pervade our nation and our state,” said University President Michael Hogan in an e-mail to the University community.

“But we also are compelled to meet the needs of our students, patients, and faculty. UConn is a critical state asset that can be employed to address our economic crisis in the short term and ensure Connecticut’s economic vitality in the long term.”

Hogan and UConn officials also are concerned about two other aspects of Rell’s address: a proposal to require public colleges and universities to obtain the approval of the Office of Policy and Management prior to filling positions, and a move to defer bonding for UConn 2000/21st Century UConn projects for one year.

“For more than 15 years the University has had the authority to fill positions in accordance with our priorities,” Hogan said.

“A return to this past practice would remove local decision-making, add to the state’s bureaucracy, and impair operating efficiency.”

University administrators, at press time, were still analyzing details of the proposal to delay capital projects for a year and trying to determine how it would affect the UConn 2000 program.

The governor’s budget now goes to the full legislature for debate.

“We will highlight to our state’s elected leadership how critical UConn is to Connecticut’s future,” Hogan said, “and the value of continued investment, even in these difficult economic times,”

Hogan added that every effort would be made to maintain the University’s commitment to financial aid.

“As we work through strategies to address these dramatic cuts, to the extent possible, we are committed to continuing to protect financial aid to ensure access to our outstanding programs and to those students with the greatest need for assistance,” Hogan said.

“As a general principle, protecting program quality and accessibility are foremost. Yet we recognize that cuts of this magnitude would necessitate sacrifices by all.”

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