State budget cuts impact university

Alex PalmieriNews Writer

Connecticut has proposed a budget cut that will be affecting the state tremendously, said Jonathan Wharton.

“This is an issue I’ve been stressing and suggesting that is of major importance,” said Wharton, political science professor at Southern. “It was well known over the past five years, minimum, that our debt was significant here in Connecticut.”

Wharton said he expected this to happen because of the financial hole Connecticut has been faced with for the last years. He said he is concerned about the state and its schools and universities. There are 17 colleges in Connecticut, each may be affected by this budget cut.

“There is a portion of cuts that are going to take place when it comes to municipal aid,” said Wharton. “This is unfortunate because a lot of municipal aid goes towards public schools.”

The budget, Wharton said, will be around a $30 million shortfall, which will translate to roughly four percent less than the budget.

There will be a hiring freeze once again in Connecticut. Wharton said there will be rare exceptions for the administrations and the Board of Regents to approve.

“Am I surprised at this? No,” said Wharton. “If anything, I’m surprised it’s only four percent. The thought was it was going to be closer to nine or 10 percent. Not four.”

Though four percent less than the budget may sound bad, Wharton said it could be worse. At the same time, these are just the budget numbers for now.

The budget, Wharton said, was just suggested by the governor’s office and has to go through the general assembly. They have authority to change it around.

“The governor,” said Wharton, “can suggest any numbers that he wants. At the end of the day it’s the legislature that will pass the actual budget. So we don’t know what the final outcome will be.”

Costel Calin, assistant professor in the political science department, said his main concern about the budget cuts is how it will affect schools and universities.

“I have some question marks of how much this budget cut is going to affect our ability to keep up with our colleagues from different universities,” said Calin.

Calin said he is also concerned about how it will impact students. When it comes to labs, or students not being able to get the financial support they need, Calin said this can be a problem that not only Southern, but every Connecticut university may face.

“We have students that are coming from less fortunate families,” said Calin. “We offer them some support for textbooks. But I’m afraid that will be impacted.”  

The economy in Connecticut, Calin said, is not performing up to par. This is one of the major reasons for the budget cut. He said he hopes it will not affect schools too much.

“I believe education is not a luxury item,” said Calin. “Education is a right that people have and with this budget cut, I’m not sure how that right is going to be affected.”

Photo Credit: Dylan Haviland

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