Republican Leaders Calling For More “Transparency” In UConn Budget Process [Courant]

July 17, 2015

Hartford Courant

Republicans on UConn: “Why are major financial decisions and discussion taking place out of public eye?”

Republican legislators are called for more transparency in the University of Connecticut budget process.

Senators Kevin Witkos, R-Canton, and Michael McLachlan, R-Danbury, released a statement Thursday saying they intend to propose legislation to bring about more transparency.

The statement was apparently prompted by a Courant story published earlier this week that described how UConn trustees passed a $1.3 billion budget without any public discussion. The vote came after a 90 minute closed executive session where trustees discussed the budget.

Former trustee Louise Bailey was quoted in the story as saying that the budget discussion held in the executive session could have been discussed in open session.

“Former UConn trustee Louise Bailey is right,” Sen. Minority Leader Pro Tempore Witkos said. “She says UConn’s budget discussions should be done in public, not in private. Surely UConn’s current board members, including Gov. Malloy, can see that the process cries out for more sunlight. There is a massive amount of taxpayer dollars involved. This is our flagship university. Why are major financial decisions and discussions taking place out of the public eye? ”

“It’s time for UConn to draw the curtains back,” said McLachlan, the ranking Republican senator on the legislature’s Government Administration and Elections Committee. “Taxpayers deserve a discussion that is out in the open. They deserve to know how these dollars are being spent. The public should be able to scrutinize the budget and provide input. After all, it’s their money.”

Witkos, the ranking Republican senator on the legislature’s higher education committee said: “I hope the public can see a disturbing pattern here in state government which needs to be broken. Last month, Democrat lawmakers and Gov. Malloy crafted the $40 billion state budget behind closed doors. They did it in darkness, without a single Republican in the room. As we propose legislation to make the UConn budget process more transparent, we will also be reminding the public that the same transparency is desperately needed at the Connecticut State Capitol.”