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July 28, 2003

UConn Operating On Weekly Allowance
To Cope With State Budget Stalemate

Despite the continuing budget stalemate being played out in Hartford, UConn's Storrs-based programs and the UConn Health Center have been continuing and will continue to operate, owing to a series of seven-day grants from the state.

Relying on a mixture of revenues, including a weekly appropriation from the state, University officials are funding all programs and departments at approximately the same level as last year, says Bruce DeTora, the University's budget director.

"Between the weekly stipends from the state, revenue from tuition, research grants, and our auxiliary enterprises, we've been able to continue funding the operation at an acceptable level. We cannot, however, continue operating in this fashion indefinitely," DeTora says.

"Operating in seven-day slices is much more difficult to do than to plan on an annual basis," he adds. "We are being funded at the absolute minimum level from the state's general fund, and we also need weekly authorization from the state to spend money from our other revenue sources," as necessary to pay employees, vendors, and other bills.

In planning the weekly budgets, DeTora says the University is using Gov. Rowland's proposed 2003-04 recommended budget for UConn which, at $197.7 million is slightly more than last year's appropriation but $10 million less than UConn requested to maintain current services during the next fiscal year.

University officials also are concerned that, when the General Assembly and Gov. John G. Rowland do agree on a budget for the next biennium, it could significantly reduce UConn's state appropriatio n. State legislators cut UConn's 2002-2003 budget by nearly $17 million, including fringe benefit costs, for Storrs-based programs, and by $4.2 million for the Health Center.

There also is concern regarding how much of the state's savings accrued through the early retirement of 486 UConn employees, including 365 from Storrs-based programs, will be returned to the University.

If further budget cuts are substantial, DeTora says, all options for increasing revenue will have to be considered, including another mid-year tuition increase.

Despite increasing revenue from tuition and grants, the state appropriation remains UConn's largest single source of support. Nonetheless, while the amount of the state appropriation has increased, its percentage of the University's total operating budget declined markedly during the last decade, DeTora says, from more than 50 percent of the University's budget to less than 40 percent last year.