Fasano, Somers Response to Governor’s UConn Press Conference at Avery Point

September 25, 2017

Hartford Senate Republican President Pro Tempore Len Fasano (R-North Haven) and State Senator Heather Somers (R-Groton) released the following statements in response to a press conference held by Governor Dannel P. Malloy and UConn President Susan Herbst criticizing the budget that passed the legislature with bipartisan support for including cuts and cost savings for UConn and UConn Health Center.

“Our higher education institutions play a very important role in our state. And rightly so, we have been giving UConn billions of dollars over multiple years. But now when solving a budget deficit totaling billions upon billions of dollars, when core social services are in jeopardy of being slashed, all areas of government have to scale back and live within the state’s means,” said Senator Somers. “Governor Malloy and President Herbst continue to use scare tactics and overstate the cuts to UConn. Our budget has outlined where savings can be achieved, and let me be very clear, it does not propose closing Avery Point. In addition, the budget preserves the requirement that 15% of tuition goes to fund financial aid. If UConn decides to cut funding for Avery Point instead of tightening its belt and reducing administrative expenses that is President Herbst’s choice. It wouldn’t be the first time President Herbst targets her students in tough budget times and holds her administration harmless to cuts.”

Sen. Fasano said, “Over the years, President Herbst has shown an inability to properly manage UConn’s finances. She has tried to hand out raises at all levels at the same time she increased tuition – a move that resulted in the legislature for the first time in decades refusing to accept her proposed labor contracts. She has spent money exorbitantly on speakers and salaries, and on presidential mansions and administrative bloat. UConn administrative expenses have been shown to drastically exceed other schools, for example in 2013 it was reported that UConn came in third among the nation’s research universities for spending on administration. We have also seen UConn Health Center use taxpayer dollars for an unnecessary hospital expansion that has driven UCHC further into deficit. If UConn’s first decision when faced with these reductions is to target students and facilities like Avery Point, President Herbst should resign. That clearly is not the way to manage the nearly $1 billion provided in the state budget, not even including bonding, which passed the legislature with bipartisan support.”

Sen. Somers added, “UConn has alternative ways to attain funding or reduce administrative costs, including new ways made available to them for the first time in this budget. But the disabled and the elderly do not have that ability. In making these cuts, this budget restores local education funding for k-12 schools, holds towns like Groton harmless to cuts, and fully funds services such as Care4Kids, Meals on Wheels, employment opportunities for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities. If reductions are not made to UConn, where does the governor and President Herbst propose the state cut instead? Do they want to see devastating cuts hit k-12 education, the elderly and safety net services? Or do they think residents should be taxed more? Those are the options our state is facing. UConn has to be part of the solution.”