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UConn students and faculty walk out to protest proposed budget changes

UConn student Areeb Masood, center, protests at the state Capitol over proposed budget cuts on Wednesday, February 15, 2022 in Hartford, Conn. Students boarded buses from the University of Connecticut campus in Storrs after walking out of classes to protest Governor Ned Lamont’s proposed state budget cuts that could cause a raise in tuition.
Mark Mirko
Connecticut Public
UConn student Areeb Masood (center) protests at the state Capitol over proposed state funding for the university on Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2023, in Hartford, Conn. Students boarded buses from the campus in Storrs after walking out of classes to protest funding levels in Gov. Ned Lamont’s proposed state budget.

UConn students and faculty walked off the Storrs campus and rallied at the state Capitol in Hartford Wednesday to voice concerns over proposed changes in state funding for the university.

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont says there will be no cuts, but the governor notes that federal COVID relief funding for the university is no longer available.

The walkout comes on the heels of the governor's budget address last week.

In testimony submitted Wednesday to the General Assembly’s Appropriations Committee, UConn President Radenka Maric said the governor’s budget proposal would leave the university with a shortfall of $159.6 million next year and $197.1 million the following year, compared to the budget requests made by UConn and UConn Health.

Maric said “the governor’s proposed budget would not cover the total amount of salary increases approved under the collective bargaining agreement negotiated between the state and state employee unions.”

UConn enrolls more than 24,000 undergraduate and about 9,000 graduate students. Maric also said the budget shortfall could cause tuition rates to go up by thousands of dollars.

Mason Holland, UConn’s student body president, is concerned that a loss in funding will determine who is able to go to the university.

“Investing in education and investing in UConn is investing in Connecticut’s future. The question is: How much do these legislators and how much does Gov. Lamont really care about the state’s future?” he said.

Lamont said in a statement Wednesday afternoon that the state has provided a historic level of funding for the university in his budget plan, including the ”largest block grant ever proposed for UConn in state history.”

“Our proposal provides UConn with funding to support wage increases and brings pension and retiree health costs onto the General Fund to enhance their competitiveness in obtaining grant funding,” Lamont said.

“I am immensely proud of the accomplishments of our UConn students, faculty and alumni,” Lamont said. “UConn must remember they are accountable to the taxpayers of our state and must maintain fiscal controls, like every other part of state government.”

This story will be updated.

Lesley Cosme Torres is an Education Reporter at Connecticut Public. She reports on education inequities across the state and also focuses on Connecticut's Hispanic and Latino residents, with a particular focus on the Puerto Rican community. Her coverage spans from LGBTQ+ discrimination in K-12 schools, book ban attempts across CT, student mental health concerns, and more. She reports out of Fairfield county and Hartford.

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