UConn says state cuts would lead to closing departments - WFSB 3 Connecticut

UConn says state cuts would lead to closing departments

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UConn President Susan Herbst says the governor's proposed $40 million cut in annual state aid to her school would lead to staff cuts, unpaid furloughs and the closing of some departments and degree programs.

But Herbst says she will not ask the Board of Trustees for new tuition or fee increases, beyond the 6.75 percent increase for the next school year that was approved in 2011.

Herbst testified Tuesday morning before the legislature's Appropriation Committee, which is considering Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's two-year, nearly $40 billion tax-and-spending proposal.

She says such a large cut to the state's block grant to UConn would have "horrendous" consequences for students, including the inability to get into certain courses, which could force them to stay at the school longer.

On Tuesday evening, dozens of students packed an education committee meeting at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford to protest the governor's proposed cuts.

"UConn offers a lot of different opportunities," said UConn student Brianna Datti. "I think that it's very important for UConn to be funded."

After the university president told state officials that the proposed cuts would lead to staffing reductions, furloughs and the closure of some departments, the students testified how the cuts would impact them.

"Tuition will more be more likely to increase at a faster rate than it already does," said student Daniel Byrd.

Students from other state universities also told legislators that they would be impacted by the cuts too, as the Connecticut state colleges and university system said it is facing a $38 million shortfall.

"The governor puts a proposal out and we listen. I can't say what the legislature is going to do now because it's the first night of eight nights of budget hearings. The public has opinions and they matter to us," said State Senator Beth Bye.

After more than dozens of students and administrators testified, students said they weren't sure if their voices were really heard.

While some legislators were listening to the testimony, others were seen reading other items. One legislator was reading a book called "Making of a Legend," and another lawmaker was reading another bill about English language learners.

A final decision on what cuts will be made, will happen in April when the state legislator is expected to vote on the budget.

Copyright 2015 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved.