Nancy Wyman – It’s time to step up for Academic Freedom and Connecticut’s universities and colleges

There was a time when Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman was considered one of the most important and outspoken advocates for public higher education in Connecticut.

Heralding from the 53rd House District, Nancy Wyman served as a state representative from 1987 to 1995.  In that capacity she was a powerful voice for her constituents who were faculty, staff, students and alumni of the University of Connecticut, Connecticut State University and Connecticut’s Community and Technical Colleges.

As the Vice Chair and then Chair of the General Assembly’s Education Committee, and a high-ranking member of the Appropriations Committee, Nancy Wyman worked tirelessly to make public higher education a priority, including helping to successfully derail an outrageous plan to merge Connecticut’s Community Colleges and State Universities under a new bureaucratic and administrative structure.

Considering Nancy Wyman was one of the few public officials who truly understood, appreciated and supported the fundamental role that public higher education plays in Connecticut, there were high hopes that as Governor Dannel Malloy’s Lt. Governor, Nancy Wyman would help usher in a new era of state support for public universities and colleges.

Instead, she became a silent partner in Malloy’s unprecedented attack on Connecticut’s institutions of higher education.  Malloy’s excessive and record-breaking budget cuts have systematically undermined all of Connecticut’s colleges and universities, resulting in higher tuition and reduced educational opportunities for those who could actually come up with the money to pursue a college degree.

And in what was a truly ironic and tragic moment, Nancy Wyman not only failed to stop Malloy’s inappropriate initiative to merge Connecticut State Universities and Community Colleges via the creation of the Board of Regents, but it was Wyman’s phone calls and lobbying of Democratic legislators that actually allowed Malloy to eviscerate the very programs that she had previously worked so hard to support.

Yet as bad as Malloy’s higher education policies have been over the last five years, it has become apparent that the greatest threat to UConn and CSU are the Malloy administration’s recent contract proposals.

Rather than focus on issues of salary and compensation, Malloy’s political appointees on the UConn Board of Trustees and the Board of Regents are seeking contract language and policy changes that would destroy the core aspects of Academic Freedom, shared governance and tenure.

For examples see;

Malloy Administration ushering in a “Wisconsin Moment” at UConn and CSU

The Malloy Administration’s stunning attack on unions, professors and the future of Connecticut State University

New Jersey lawyer known for privatization effort leads UConn bargaining effort against faculty.

While both the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) chapters at the University of Connecticut and Connecticut State University are speaking out against the Malloy administration’s proposals, the damage that would occur, should these concepts be adopted, would reach well beyond the impact that they would have on the faculty.

These proposals would literally undermine the national reputations that UConn and CSU have been building up over the years and limit what the schools can achieve in the years ahead.

Among Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s most important contributions was his observation that,

“In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” – Martin Luther King, Jr

Those of us who have worked with and for Nancy Wyman over the past forty years know the difference she can make when engaged in an issue that she truly cares about and we know she was once a true friend of higher education.

With the very future of Connecticut’s public institutions of higher education hanging in the balance, the time has come for Nancy Wyman to truly and honestly step up and speak out…

Silence is simply not an option.

Malloy Administration ushering in a “Wisconsin Moment” at UConn and CSU

During last year’s gubernatorial campaign, Connecticut’s state employee unions mobilized their members with the powerful message that a vote for Democrat Dannel Malloy was the only way to prevent Connecticut from having a “Wisconsin Moment,” a reference to Republican Tom Foley’s comments in support of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s unprecedented attack on public employees and their rights.

As the state employee unions wrote in a commentary piece that appeared in a summer 2014 on CT Newsjunkie entitled Union Members Not Interested in ‘Wisconsin Moment’

The last thing we need is a Koch Brothers-funded campaign to transform Connecticut into Walker’s Wisconsin.

AFSCME’s newsletter further explained,

“Preventing a “Wisconsin moment” from taking place in Connecticut was the prevailing theme of the Connecticut AFL-CIO’s 10th biennial political convention that took place June 16-17 in New Haven.

AFSCME President Lee Saunders electrified the more than 300 union delegates to the convention with his keynote address on June 16. “We can’t afford Connecticut to become another Wisconsin.”

[…]

Hours after Saunders’ speech, Gov. Malloy declared “We’re going to have a ‘Connecticut moment!’” in contrast to Republican endorsed gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley’s call last year for a “Wisconsin moment.”

In response, Connecticut’s state employees gave Malloy the votes he needed to stay in the Governor’s Office for a second term.

Now, a year later, faculty at the University of Connecticut (UConn) and Connecticut State University (CSU-Board of Regents) have become prime targets in the Malloy Administration’s attempt to push through some of the very policy changes that have been championed by the appropriately vilified Scott Walker.

The Malloy administration’s proposals to remove shared academic governance at the University of Connecticut and destroy tenure protections at Connecticut State Universities by repealing the requirement of declaring financial exigency prior to laying off tenured faculty are exactly the policy outcomes contained in Wisconsin Act 55, which Scott Walker signed into law this past July. Continue reading “Malloy Administration ushering in a “Wisconsin Moment” at UConn and CSU”

The national Academe Blog asks – Is Dannel Malloy – A Democratic Scott Walker?

A special thanks to Hank Reichman, the first vice-president and chair of the AAUP’s Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure, and the nationally respected Academe Blog, the blog of Academe Magazine, for reposting my Wait, What? article entitled, The Malloy Administration’s stunning attack on unions, professors and the future of Connecticut State University.

While people across the nation may not know it, in a few months, Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy will be taking the helm of the Democratic Governors Association.  In that position he will claim to be speaking for the nation’s Democratic governors and be responsible for electing more Democratic governors in the 2016 election cycle.

Having already pushed through the deepest cuts in state history to Connecticut’s public institutions of higher education, the neoliberal, pro-Corporate Education Reform Industry governor is now engaged in an unprecedented attack on faculty at both Connecticut State University (now under the Connecticut Board of Regents) and the University of Connecticut.

For the first time in UConn history, the Board of Trustees, which is made up of the governor’s political appointees and donors, have hired an outside, out-of-state, Chris Christie affiliated, anti-union law firm to lead the attack on the UConn AAUP.  You can read more about the Malloy administration’s approach at UConn at: New Jersey lawyer known for privatization effort leads UConn bargaining effort against faculty. And UConn hires Gov. Chris Christie connected law firm to negotiate contract with faculty union.

And now, as yesterday’s post explains, the Malloy administration dropped a contract proposal on Connecticut State University – AAUP faculty that eliminates a requirement that the institution declare financial exigency before firing tenured and non-tenured faculty and eliminates the requirement that prior to taking that “nuclear option,’ the management first meet with the AAUP chapter to discuss and find alternative solutions to firing tenured faculty.  In addition, Malloy’s contract proposal takes the unprecedented step of inserting “Agency Fee” language into the contract itself, even though the matter is well settled and does not appear in any of the other State Employee contracts that cover more than the 45,000 Connecticut unionized state employees.

In his introduction to my blog post, Hank Reichman properly asks the question; Is Governor Dannel Malloy a water-downed, Democratic version of Scott Walker?

Reichman writes,

Last week I posted an item reporting on the bargaining efforts of two AAUP/AAUP-CBC affiliated faculty unions, the California Faculty Association (CFA) in the California State University system and the Professional Staff Congress (PSC) in the City University of New York.  Now comes word that the AAUP’s own collective bargaining chapter at the Connecticut State University (CSU) is facing a major challenge as it opens negotiations with the Board of Regents over a new contract.  Apparently the implosion of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s pathetic presidential campaign (and his accompanying collapse in the polls at home) hasn’t discouraged a Democratic imitator.  For under the administration of Governor Daniel Malloy the CSU Board of Regents has released bargaining proposals that amount to nothing less than a wholesale assault on the faculty in the true spirit of Scott Walker.  But don’t just take my word for it — or for that matter the word of our CSU chapter.  Read instead what Connecticut political blogger Jon Pelto, a former state legislator, has to say:

The Malloy Administration’s stunning attack on unions, professors and the future of Connecticut State University (Wait, What? 10/6/15)

“In a stark reminder that action speaks louder than words, Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy’s administration has dropped a stunningly anti-union, anti-faculty, anti-Connecticut State University proposal on the table as it begins its contract negotiations with the CSU Chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), the union that represents faculty and a variety of education professionals at the four universities of CSU.

“This development comes on top of the news that Malloy’s political appointees on the University of Connecticut’s Board of Trustees have authorized a contract with an extremely controversial, high profile, anti-union, Governor Chris Christie affiliated New Jersey law firm to lead the negotiations against the UConn Chapter of the AAUP. That contract could cost taxpayers and students as much as $500,000 or more.

“The Malloy administration’s approach to the faculty who teach at Connecticut’s State Universities is particularly troubling since there has already been a growing recognition that Malloy’s initiative to merge the Connecticut State University and the Connecticut Community College System into the Board of Regents has been an utter failure.

“In just three years, the first two presidents of the Board of Regents were forced to leave under a cloud and Malloy’s political appointees on the Board of Regents have wasted millions of dollars in taxpayer funds on out-of-state consultants and some of those contracts apparently violated state law.

“Earlier this fall, in an effort to put his Board of Regents program back on track, Malloy had his chief-of-staff, Mark Ojakian, appointed as the [Interim] President of the Board of Regents.

“However, if the move was an attempt to turn over a new leaf and bring stability to Connecticut’s state universities and community colleges, that notion was blown away by the unbelievable anti-union, anti-professor, anti-Connecticut State University contract proposal that Malloy’s administration recently submitted.

“The proposal also includes language that will be of concern to Connecticut’s other public employee unions.

“For starters, it is safe to say that by proposing to insert a major new “agency fee” section into the CSU union contract, reducing release time for union activities and adding language that states, “Use of the Employer’s email system by CSU-AAUP staff or members for the purpose of transacting union business is strictly prohibited,” the Malloy administration’s proposal would be better suited to the likes of right-wing Republican Governor Bruce Rauner who is infamously working to destroy public employee unions in Illinois or Wisconsin’s Governor Scott Walker.

“The issue of Agency Fees are well settled in law and the unwarranted inclusion of such language in a Connecticut State Employee contract is not only unprecedented but mirrors a broader effort that is taking place across the country as corporate and conservative-funded anti-union front groups work to undermine collective bargaining rights in the United States.

“A key strategy that these groups are using is to try and pass laws that limit a union’s ability to communicate with its members.  In this environment, suggesting that the new contract outlaw AAUP-CSU’s ability to use their university’s email system to share information with faculty who are represented by the union is appalling.

“In fact, having studied the history of public employee unions in Connecticut and reviewed nearly every contract since public employees were given the right to collectively bargain in 1970s, Malloy’s CSU-AAUP contract proposal may very well be the most anti-union plan ever dropped on the bargaining table.

“And making matters worse, the anti-union provisions of Malloy’s proposed contract pales by comparison to the other proposals related to the Connecticut State Universities and its faculty.

“This includes eliminating all funds for faculty research, community service and professional development.  If adopted, the Malloy administration’s contract proposal would dramatically reduce the ability of CSU’s faculty to conduct the research and community service the state needs in order to grow and prosper.

“It is disturbing to say the least that Malloy, who spends much of his time claiming to be an advocate for Connecticut’s economy, would seek to destroy the important contributions that the Connecticut State Universities are making to Connecticut and its economic future.

“Equally troubling for faculty and students is that while tuition and fees have been skyrocketing due to Malloy’s record budget cuts to Connecticut’s public institutions of higher education, his new proposed contract for CSU would actually allow far more part-time faculty to be used when it comes to teaching courses.

“There is widespread recognition that Connecticut’s public institutions are already relying on too many part-time faculty when, in fact, university students need and deserve to learn from full-time faculty who can provide the knowledge, expertise, training and support that students will need in this increasing complex world.  The General Assembly has actually been very proactive on this issue, making Malloy’s maneuver all that more inappropriate.

“The Malloy administration’s plan suggests other extraordinary changes in the contract, changes that would immediately be thrown out of any reputable university or college in the nation.

“The proposed contract strips the provisions that the Board of Regents would need to declare financial exigency before firing tenured faculty and removes the Board’s duties to notify and work with the union on how to avoid financial exigency in times of extraordinary economic problems.  This change alone would ensure Connecticut State University’s national ranking and reputation would drop significantly considering the issues related to financial exigency and cooperation with faculty are deemed among the most important elements of a high quality institution of higher education in the United States.

“Eliminating the right to a termination hearing in cases of reprimand, suspension and termination is also among the proposals.  Such a change would not only be unfair to existing faculty, but open the state up to extraordinary lawsuits since there would be no mechanism to guard against politically motivated attempts by “management” to unfairly fire particular professors.

“The plan also calls for the implementation of an evaluation system worthy of George Orwell’s 1984, in which the measure of professional duty shifts from “productive service” to service that is also “collegial” (a term that is undefined) and one that requires faculty to adhere to “official policy statements,” which are not only undefined, but downright scary considering what such a phrase could possibly mean in a community built on the notion of academic freedom.

“The proposal also eliminates important job protection language for librarians, counselors and coaches.

“And, in a move that should worry all of the state’s public employee unions, the proposed contract would terminate any and all side-letters to the contract, a traditional and important mechanism that is used to make contract changes that are separate from the day to day contract or deal with special issues that arise.

“And the list goes on and on…

“With perhaps the most mean-spirited award going to the Malloy administration’s proposal that would change how the Board of Regents would deal with the children of long-time faculty who have died while employed.

“For the last twenty-five years, the State’s contract with AAUP-CSU has provided that, like other faculty dependents, children of professors who have worked at least ten years and passed away while employed by the institution could take classes tuition free, although those students would still have to pay for all fees related to course work, dormitories, meal plans, etc.

“The new proposal states that only students who are already enrolled as matriculated students could continue to take those courses.  If the faculty parent dies before the child is enrolled at the college, for example if they are still in high school, then that child is, as the saying goes is , “s**t out of luck.”

“While few rank and file union members actually believed Dannel Malloy when he said he would be a “friend of labor” in a second term, many voted for him out of fear of what his opponent Tom Foley might do if elected.

“Now with Malloy proposing anti-union, anti-faculty contract language and pushing the need for public employee concessions as a way to balance the budget – a budget Malloy promised would not need new taxes, cuts or concessions – Connecticut’s public employees are getting a taste of what they feared most.”

The Malloy Administration’s stunning attack on unions, professors and the future of Connecticut State University

In a stark reminder that action speaks louder than words, Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy’s administration has dropped a stunningly anti-union, anti-faculty, anti-Connecticut State University proposal on the table as it begins its contract negotiations with the CSU Chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), the union that represents faculty and a variety of education professionals at the four universities of CSU.

This development comes on top of the news that Malloy’s political appointees on the University of Connecticut’s Board of Trustees have authorized a contract with an extremely controversial, high profile, anti-union, Governor Chris Christie affiliated New Jersey law firm to lead the negotiations against the UConn Chapter of the AAUP. That contract could cost taxpayers and students as much as $500,000 or more.

The Malloy administration’s approach to the faculty who teach at Connecticut’s State Universities is particularly troubling since there has already been a growing recognition that Malloy’s initiative to merge the Connecticut State University and the Connecticut Community College System into the Board of Regents has been an utter failure.

In just three years, the first two presidents of the Board of Regents were forced to leave under a cloud and Malloy’s political appointees on the Board of Regents have wasted millions of dollars in taxpayer funds on out-of-state consultants and some of those contracts apparently violated state law.

Earlier this fall, in an effort to put his Board of Regents program back on track, Malloy had his chief-of-staff, Mark Ojakian, appointed as the [Interim] President of the Board of Regents.

However, if the move was an attempt to turn over a new leaf and bring stability to Connecticut’s state universities and community colleges, that notion was blown away by the unbelievable anti-union, anti-professor, anti-Connecticut State University contract proposal that Malloy’s administration recently submitted.

The proposal also includes language that will be of concern to Connecticut’s other public employee unions.

For starters, it is safe to say that by proposing to insert a major new “agency fee” section into the CSU union contract, reducing release time for union activities and adding language that states, “Use of the Employer’s email system by CSU-AAUP staff or members for the purpose of transacting union business is strictly prohibited,” the Malloy administration’s proposal would be better suited to the likes of right-wing Republican Governor Bruce Rauner who is infamously working to destroy public employee unions in Illinois or Wisconsin’s Governor Scott Walker.

The issue of Agency Fees are well settled in law and the unwarranted inclusion of such language in a Connecticut State Employee contract is not only unprecedented but mirrors a broader effort that is taking place across the country as corporate and conservative-funded anti-union front groups work to undermine collective bargaining rights in the United States.

A key strategy that these groups are using is to try and pass laws that limit a union’s ability to communicate with its members.  In this environment, suggesting that the new contract outlaw AAUP-CSU’s ability to use their university’s email system to share information with faculty who are represented by the union is appalling.

In fact, having studied the history of public employee unions in Connecticut and reviewed nearly every contract since public employees were given the right to collectively bargain in 1970s, Malloy’s CSU-AAUP contract proposal may very well be the most anti-union plan ever dropped on the bargaining table.

And making matters worse, the anti-union provisions of Malloy’s proposed contract pales by comparison to the other proposals related to the Connecticut State Universities and its faculty.

This includes eliminating all funds for faculty research, community service and professional development.  If adopted, the Malloy administration’s contract proposal would dramatically reduce the ability of CSU’s faculty to conduct the research and community service the state needs in order to grow and prosper.

It is disturbing to say the least that Malloy, who spends much of his time claiming to be an advocate for Connecticut’s economy, would seek to destroy the important contributions that the Connecticut State Universities are making to Connecticut and its economic future.

Equally troubling for faculty and students is that while tuition and fees have been skyrocketing due to Malloy’s record budget cuts to Connecticut’s public institutions of higher education, his new proposed contract for CSU would actually allow far more part-time faculty to be used when it comes to teaching courses.

There is widespread recognition that Connecticut’s public institutions are already relying on too many part-time faculty when, in fact, university students need and deserve to learn from full-time faculty who can provide the knowledge, expertise, training and support that students will need in this increasing complex world.  The General Assembly has actually been very proactive on this issue, making Malloy’s maneuver all that more inappropriate.

The Malloy administration’s plan suggests other extraordinary changes in the contract, changes that would immediately be thrown out of any reputable university or college in the nation.

The proposed contract strips the provisions that the Board of Regents would need to declare financial exigency before firing tenured faculty and removes the Board’s duties to notify and work with the union on how to avoid financial exigency in times of extraordinary economic problems.  This change alone would ensure Connecticut State University’s national ranking and reputation would drop significantly considering the issues related to financial exigency and cooperation with faculty are deemed among the most important elements of a high quality institution of higher education in the United States.

Eliminating the right to a termination hearing in cases of reprimand, suspension and termination is also among the proposals.  Such a change would not only be unfair to existing faculty, but open the state up to extraordinary lawsuits since there would be no mechanism to guard against politically motivated attempts by “management” to unfairly fire particular professors.

The plan also calls for the implementation of an evaluation system worthy of George Orwell’s 1984, in which the measure of professional duty shifts from “productive service” to service that is also “collegial” (a term that is undefined) and one that requires faculty to adhere to “official policy statements,” which are not only undefined, but downright scary considering what such a phrase could possibly mean in a community built on the notion of academic freedom.

The proposal also eliminates important job protection language for librarians, counselors and coaches.

And, in a move that should worry all of the state’s public employee unions, the proposed contract would terminate any and all side-letters to the contract, a traditional and important mechanism that is used to make contract changes that are separate from the day to day contract or deal with special issues that arise.

And the list goes on and on…

With perhaps the most mean-spirited award going to the Malloy administration’s proposal that would change how the Board of Regents would deal with the children of long-time faculty who have died while employed.

For the last twenty-five years, the State’s contract with AAUP-CSU has provided that, like other faculty dependents, children of professors who have worked at least ten years and passed away while  employed by the institution could take classes tuition free, although those students would still have to pay for all fees related to course work, dormitories, meal plans, etc.

The new proposal states that only students who are already enrolled as matriculated students could continue to take those courses.  If the faculty parent dies before the child is enrolled at the college, for example if they are still in high school, then that child is, as the saying goes is , “s**t out of luck.”

While few rank and file union members actually believed Dannel Malloy when he said he would be a “friend of labor” in a second term, many voted for him out of fear of what his opponent Tom Foley might do if elected.

Now with Malloy proposing anti-union, anti-faculty contract language and pushing the need for public employee concessions as a way to balance the budget – a budget Malloy promised would not need new taxes, cuts or concessions – Connecticut’s public employees are getting a taste of what they feared most.

Malloy and Democrats eviscerate “Transform CSCU 2020” in the new State Budget

It was with great “fan-fare” that Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy traveled to Manchester Community College this past January to announce his “Transform CSCU 2020” initiative.

Malloy claimed that his plan would provide Connecticut’s State Universities and Community Colleges with an extra $60.2 million in funding.   Governor Malloy stated at the time,

“This is only a down payment… I’m making a personal commitment, and I hope future governors will make a personal commitment to make sure that this program continues.”

At the press conference, the President of Manchester Community College declared,

“We’re here today to celebrate the governor’s goal to support student success by his investment…It’s this investment that will better position us to be on the leading edge with our academic programs and will increase public higher education’s role in sustaining and expanding economic vitality for this state of Connecticut.”

But unfortunately, like so many of Governor Malloy’s “initiatives,” the reality of his plan failed to match the rhetoric delivered at his press conference… In fact, the plan didn’t match the rhetoric at all.

As a result of Malloy’s historic cuts to higher education, Connecticut’s state universities and community colleges are facing a very real and a very serious $42 million shortfall for the coming fiscal year.

This projected budget deficit means that the four Connecticut State University campuses and the twelve community college campuses need $42 million just to maintain the existing level of reduced services, let alone provide additional services to Connecticut’s college students.

Yet rather than confront the budget deficit that resulted from his previous actions, Governor Malloy tried to portray his new proposal as an effort to enhance and expand Connecticut’s public colleges and universities.

By calling his $60 million initiative, “Transform CSCU 2020,” Malloy’s plan was little more than a public relations ploy since realistically, the $42 million of the $60 million of the “new” money is need simply to maintain existing services.  The remaining $20 million was all that would have been available to actually enhance or “Transform” existing programs at these public universities and colleges.

Almost immediately, questions about Malloy’s plan were raised.  Here is a link to the CT Mirror’s story entitled, “Malloy’s CT state college plan:

But even Malloy’s initial gimmick was not to be.

By the time the Connecticut General Assembly was ready to take up the proposed state budget, Malloy’s $60 million “Transform CSCU 2020” initiative, and its complex revenue intercept plan, was gone and replaced with a simple $47 million allocation to the Board of Regents.

And when the budget was actually voted on last Saturday, the “Transform” initiative had dropped again, from $47 million to $42 million —- just enough to fill the budget deficit created by Malloy’s earlier budget cuts.

The truth is that what was left of Malloy’s “Transform” plan left nothing at all for new programs at CSU or the community colleges.

Yet, in a grotesque failure to be honest, Malloy and the General Assembly continued to call the reduced allocation, “Transform CSCU 2020,” leaving many legislators and interested observers thinking that it was the same initiative Malloy had proposed in January.

Also, in typical fashion, Malloy didn’t even properly fund the $42 million budget allocation.

The new state budget actually allocates $23 million in state funds to the Board of Regents to help fill their budget deficit and transfers another $19 million from the financial assets of the Connecticut Student Loan Foundation to the Board of Regents so that it can close the rest of its budget deficit.

Of course, by using one-time revenue, Malloy has assured that the public colleges and universities start the following year with a $19 million deficit and counting…a deficit that will be part of Malloy’s $1.3 billion dollar state deficit that must be cleaned up by the state’s next governor.

Truth be told, in its final form, Malloy’s Transform CSCU 2020 is nothing more than an effort to backfill the budget deficits Malloy’s own plans created.

As an aside, Malloy’s decision to raid the assets of the Connecticut State Loan Foundation wasn’t limited to the $19 million for the State Universities and Community Colleges.

The Governor, with the support of the legislature’s Democrats, also grabbed $4,400,000 of the financial assets of the Connecticut Student Loan Foundation for the “CHET Baby Scholars Program” and $1,600,000 of the financial assets of the Connecticut Student Loan Foundation to pay for the Office of Higher Education’s “Governor’s Scholarship Program.”

Irresponsible budgeting doesn’t even begin to describe what Malloy has done with this new state budget.

Oh Governor! Malloy Whacks Public Colleges and Universities again.

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.

Oh…. Governor…