Connecticut deficit takes toll on CSU education budget
Taylor Nicole Richards – News Writer
There is a $900 million budget deficit for the 2016-17 fiscal year for the state of Connecticut. Layoff notices are already being enacted for state employees: 166 in the corrections department, 250 proposed to Hartford public schools, and 89 UConn Health Center notices, according to the Hartford Courant.
The deficit will also affect higher education institutions, all the CSUs, UConn and various community colleges will face cuts in the millions of dollars. Governor Dannel Malloy recently ordered $79 million in emergency cuts throughout the state.
“These were difficult decisions, but ones that nevertheless have to be made to ensure that we don’t spend more than we actually have,” said Malloy to the CT Mirror.
Southern recently received instructions to begin preparing a budget for the coming fiscal year, according to Mark Rozewski, executive vice president for Finance and Administration, in an email announcement to faculty. The reduction will be partially offset by the recent tuition increase, but as of right now, there will be a shortfall of between $1.75 million and $2 million. Southern’s Budget and Planning Committee met on April 13 to review these new issues and started planning a response to the state mandate. The committee has until April 29 to respond.
“The situation is still somewhat fluid. The numbers that we’re working with now that led to the two million dollar announcement may or not be the final numbers; it could certainly change,” said Rozewski. “The numbers we’re working with now is about two million.”
The details of the cut to Southern’s expenses are not completely finalized yet, but the first response is freezing faculty positions. Positions that are currently empty because faculty either left or retired are going to be delayed in the administration’s recruitment to refill them.
Southern’s budget cut will not affect any one department greater than the other. The entire university will have its expenses reduced. The only department the cut will not affect is food services, since Chartwells is its own independent company under a contract with the university. However, the pool in Pelz Gymnasium will be permanently closing soon.
“It is extremely unusual for a university of this size to have two swimming pools. Closing the Pelz Gym pool will save operating expenses. It was too expensive to keep it running,” said Rozewski. “It was used to a small degree for swimming instruction and recreational use that’ll move to the Moore Field House pool.”
Although the new budget cuts will affect all areas of the university, Southern’s Budgeting and Planning Committee is used to dealing with several years of constant budget reductions. The committee has “figured out ways” to protect students to the maximum extent possible during budget crises and the current one is no different than ones of the past.
“We work very hard to make sure that students are the last thing that’s ever affected in a budget reduction,” said Rozewski. “On a day to day basis, student life ought not change to any perceptible degree. There will certainly be things happening below the surface in the way things are run, but we’re working really hard so students don’t see an effect of this.”