Hurting Students, Destroying Infrastructure, Republican Budget Gets an F

Conn. Higher Ed Students, Faculty Give ‘F’ To Republican Budget

Vanessa de la Torre Vanessa de la Torre – Hartford Courant

“Revise and resubmit,” Madison, an associate professor of history, said gravely Wednesday as he stood in the Legislative Office Building alongside other academics, state college students and Democrats who decried the plan as a potential blow to higher education and individual dreams.

The report card-themed press conference featured a couple of villains: The proposed $93 million cut in operating funds over two years to the Connecticut State Colleges & Universities system, and the suggested elimination of a statewide, need-based fund called the Roberta B. Willis Scholarship Program that bestows grants of up to $5,250 a year to students such as Jamie Kelley, an aspiring lawyer from West Haven who is double-majoring in political science and history at Southern.

“Why is this budget making it harder for me and my peers to stay in school and graduate?” Kelley said.

The Republican-sponsored budget — approved in the General Assembly earlier this month with the support of a few moderate Democrats — also calls for $300 million in cuts over two years to the UConn system, according to UConn leaders who warn of major shutdowns if the cutbacks become a reality. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has said he intends to veto the budget and is negotiating with lawmakers on a new plan.

Republican leaders have defended their two-year budget as practical at a time when the state faces a projected deficit of roughly $3.5 billion.

Speakers at Wednesday’s demonstration, organized by the Connecticut State University chapter of the American Association of University Professors, used another term: “austerity budget.” They cited the Roberta B. Willis scholarships and said doing away with the grants would hurt families and dull long-term economic revitalization if talented students cannot finish their college education.

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