The Connecticut State Colleges and Universities System is facing a significant budget deficit this fiscal year, and ConnSCU officials are hoping the state will step in and pick up most the tab.
ConnSCU governs 12 Connecticut's Community Colleges; Central, Eastern, Western and Southern Connecticut State Universities, and Charter Oak State College. The projected $18 to $20 million budget gap accounts for about two percent of ConnSCU's overall budget.
In a report at The Connecticut Mirror, Jacqueline Rabe Thomas says a big reason for the gap was an unexpected change in retirement benefits. "They were told back in July that they would need to contribute more (to their retirement fund) than they had budgeted for," says Rabe Thomas. "For example, if you have an employee earning $50,000 annually, they would need to contribute for one plan $27,500 a year versus last year, when it was closer to $20,000 per employee."
Rabe Thomas says a change in health benefits and across the board pay raises also contributed to the deficit. ConnSCU officials say the state has covered budget shortfalls in the past, and is hoping they will take on $12 to $15 million of the deficit.
If the state denies the request, ConnSCU will either have to raid their emergency fund, or cut programs and staff even further. Back in June the presidents of the 12 community colleges were advised by the Board of Regents to come up with ways to do more with less, while simultaneously trying to increase class sizes.