HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont delivered his two-year, $50.5 billion budget plan to a joint session of the Democratic-controlled General Assembly.
The Democrat faces backlash over how much funding is in his proposed budget for the University of Connecticut and UConn Health.
Dr. Radenka Maric, the university president, sent a scathing note to faculty, staff, and students. She is upset that it appears Lamont’s proposed budget cut hundreds of millions of dollars from the school and health center.
Maric threatened to pull UConn basketball games from the XL Center in Hartford, adding if cuts are approved, tuition would go about $3,000 per student.
Leaders at the Capitol said they spoke with UConn’s athletic director, who said the teams are committed to playing in Hartford.
“Is UConn going to play in Hartford? You betcha,” said Speaker of the House Matt Ritter (D). Do we agree with the president that we have to help them in this budget? You betcha.”
UConn relies on the state for roughly a quarter of its annual funding. Maric said the university would be left with a shortfall of $160 million. Then, nearly $200 million after that.
“You are talking about the federal money going away,” said House Minor Leader Vin Candelora (R). “This governor is funding them over what they have received when you take out the federal money. Not a good spot for the college to be in right now, threatening to divest from a city that has invested a lot in them.”
Lawmakers said they knew these difficult conversations were coming as federal COVID-19 relief money disappeared.
“Gov. Lamont is proposing to increase state spending for UConn by $23.7 million over base appropriations and transfers in the last biennial budget,” said Adam Joseph, Lamont’s director of communication. “Additionally, he is proposing to invest a final allotment of $110.4 million in federal COVID funding over two years for UConn. Like universities across the country, UConn’s leadership is aware that the funding they are talking about is one-time federal emergency COVID relief aid. This funding was never intended to last forever, and the state could not match this emergency aid in perpetuity.”
There are plans to renovate the XL Center to accommodate the thousands of fans, including UConn’s.
Students are planning to walk out next week and protest at the Capitol.