University Budget Cuts “Would Be Devastating”

(Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)

By Claire Galvin, UConn School of Engineering Manager of Communications and Digital Strategy

The UConn School of Engineering is currently working to determine the full effects of the state’s recently proposed budget. If approved, the budget would leave the university with a shortfall of $159.6 million next year and $197.1 million the following year, under the budget requests originally made by UConn and UConn Health.

Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont shared his proposed two-year state budget to the General Assembly on Feb. 8. The university relies on the state for approximately 25 percent of its operating funding annually.

“Unfortunately, the appropriations proposed for UConn and UConn Health fall far short of what is necessary to adequately fund the university, carry out our critical public health mission most effectively, and fully cover the sizable costs the state seeks to pass along to us,” UConn President Radenka Maric wrote to the university community earlier in February.

UConn School of Engineering Dean Kazem Kazerounian echoed the president’s frustrations.

“A budget cut of this magnitude would be devastating for our School and our state’s economic future,” Kazerounian said. “We provide 51 percent of the state’s engineering graduates. Sixty-five percent of UConn Engineering graduates are employed in Connecticut.”The growth of the UConn School of Engineering.

Kazerounian explained that the school is significantly contributing to the state and the country, like by topping $72 million in research expenditures in fiscal year 2022.

“If approved, this budget will bring our School’s recent progress to an abrupt halt,” Kazerounian said.

Kazerounian said within the School of Engineering, the budget cut equates to around an 8 percent decrease in operating expenditures for the 2023-24 fiscal year.

Maric explained that the governor’s proposed budget does not cover the total amount of salary increases approved under the collective bargaining agreements between the state and the state employee unions. The proposal does cover more of what is known as historical unfunded “legacy” costs related to employee fringe benefits that the state assigns to UConn and UConn Health. However, it simultaneously reduces the university’s block grant, cancelling out any fiscal benefit for the university.

“We are strongly aligned with and fully support the governor’s focus on economic growth and inclusive opportunity over the next two years and beyond; investing in UConn and ensuring that our students have access to a world-class education is one of the best investments Connecticut can make to bolster that economic future and create those new opportunities,” Maric wrote.

Review Maric’s full comments on the governor’s proposed budget here.

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