Cross-posted from Pelto’s Point at the New Haven Advocate)
Still reeling from the deepest budget cuts in Connecticut history, Governor Malloy has targeted UConn, CSU and the state’s community colleges for another $8 million in cuts.
The $135 million in additional budget cuts that OPM Secretary Barnes released yesterday included an additional $2 million cut to UConn, $3 million cut to the UConn Health Center, $1.6 million to CSU and $1.2 million to the community colleges.
While the concept of “cuts” is always appealing, parents, students and taxpayers deserve to know the truth and the truth is definitely not what they were provided.
The additional budget cuts were euphemistically referred to as “Technology Savings” on the Governor’s press release but, of course, that isn’t how the budget really works.
Connecticut’s institutions of public higher education are provided with a “block grant” to help pay some of the costs of running the institutions.
Twenty years ago, the state covered about 50 percent of the total college budgets. Parents and students picked up most of the other half.
As a result of Connecticut’s failure to provide sufficient funds to our colleges, students and parents now pick up about 70 percent of the total cost of running the schools. Tuition has increased almost 300% due to the state’s unwillingness to invest in Connecticut’s economic future.
Earlier this year, Governor Malloy’s proposal to cut the block grants by over $50 million dollars was approved by the Legislature.
Since the block grants are used almost exclusively to pay faculty and staff salaries, cuts to block grants mean more and more of the costs of running the schools are transferred to the students.
Now Malloy, who claims to be the “jobs governor”, is cutting another $8 million from the block grants. His claim that it will mean a little less technology is misleading at best and perhaps it would be better to describe it as an outright lie.
The Governor does not have the authority to micro-manage higher education budgets. That is the job of the various boards of trustees. He can recommend that they cut technology – although he could also have recommended that they reduce the number of senior administrators and reduce the salaries of those who are left.
Cutting $8 million on top of $50 million will not be achieved by reducing technology spending.
Speaking to reporters yesterday about the package of additional cuts, OPM Secretary Barnes said “This is another example of the governor’s commitment to making government smaller and more efficient…We’ve said all along that there were a number of cuts proposed in the so-called ‘Plan B’ budget that made a lot of sense and didn’t harm necessary services.”
In the midst of the greatest recession of our lives, when Connecticut’s economic future hangs in the balance, cutting our colleges and universities makes absolutely no sense and does do harm to necessary services.
This isn’t about a little less technology, this is about cutting real programs and services at our colleges.
To put the whole thing into stunning perspective, Connecticut is now giving TicketNetwork, the Internet ticket-reseller about $8 million dollars to add 250 jobs to Connecticut’s economy while cutting $8 million dollars that would have gone help prepare Connecticut’s students for jobs of the 21st Century.