A new report from Fitch Ratings placed Connecticut second only to Illinois in the amount of state debt compared to personal income. The 2020 State Liability Report looked at direct debt and net pension liabilities as a percentage of personal income and found Connecticut’s debt accounted for roughly 26 percent ...
UConn, UConn Health request over $100 million from state to mitigate losses
The University of Connecticut and UConn Health Center is asking the state of Connecticut for a combined $102.7 million to help mitigate their losses stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, according to figures presented to the state Appropriations Committee on August 28.
The requests are due to losses from fiscal year 2020 and projected losses for fiscal year 2021.
UConn, which is requesting $25.8 million in funding, saw a massive $61 million loss in housing and dining fees after the university was forced to end in-person learning and shutter dormitories.
The university managed to save $48 million through management furloughs, spending and hiring delays and program cuts. However, the university said if it is forced to close down again this school year it would drive their deficit to $56.2 million.
Those figures do not include the $30.9 million the unfunded pension costs for professors and staff. Normally, those costs are paid for by the state.
The state was already slated to provide $397 million to UConn for FY 2021, according to UConn’s budget presentation to its Board of Trustees in July.
Likewise, UConn Health’s budget dried up when the number of elective surgeries plummeted during the pandemic. UConn Health is estimating a $120 million loss in patient revenue between FY 2020 and FY 2021, although revenue figures have much improved since April.
However, most of the $76.9 million in funding UConn Health requested is due to the state’s unfunded pensions, which have plagued the university-run hospital for years.
UConn Health is requesting $53.8 million to support pension costs, the remaining $23 million is for COVID-related losses.
UConn Health wrote that the $76.9 million estimate is only if “all mitigation efforts are realized,” which include management furloughs, deferring capital needs, federal aid and $40 million in cost-cutting and revenue enhancements.
UConn Health has thus far received $32 million in federal funds related to COVID-19, most of which came from the CARES Act.
UConn Health also worked with the Office of Policy and Management to accelerate their block grant, using funds dedicated for FY 2021 to help cover losses in FY 2020
UConn received $10 million from the CARES Act to help mitigate $30 million in losses over FY 2020, but this fiscal year will see those losses double.
“For FY21, $52.6 million in losses have already been realized,” the report to the Appropriations Committee says. “If we have an early close and go fully online at any point during the fall, these losses could increase significantly.”
Both UConn and UConn Health also had to deal with employee pay increases that began to take effect in July under the terms of the 2017 SEBAC Agreement.
UConn reported in July that the pay raises will cost UConn roughly $20 million and, although the university asked its unions to defer the increases until a late date, union leaders refused saying they had already given enough back in previous SEBAC agreements.
UConn is trying to keep in-person classes going and allowing students to return to campus life, but recent upticks in positive coronavirus cases among in-coming students has university officials on edge.
According to the documents provided to the Appropriations Committee, the university has several indicators that would trigger a reclosing of residence halls, including having more sick students and staff than their medical infrastructure can support.
UConn, however, reports that enrollment numbers remain strong and UConn Health reports patient revenue has nearly returned to pre-COVID estimates.
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