A measure that would require private institutions of higher learning and hospitals to pay local property taxes cleared its first legislative hurdle Tuesday.
The proposal, introduced by House Speaker J. Brendan Sharkey, would restructure the state\’s PILOT (Payment in Lieu of Taxes) program. Colleges and hospitals are exempt from local property taxes, and as PILOT is currently designed, the state offers municipalities partial reimbursement for revenue lost. Under the bill, private colleges and universities as well as any hospital facility would pay property taxes, and the state would reimburse them for a portion of what was paid.
The General Assembly\’s Planning and Development Committee appeared to approve the measure Tuesday, with the vote still open until late afternoon. But lawmakers were not without hesitation in sending the bill to the floor. Committee co-chair Sen. Cathy Osten, D-Hebron, said she would \”vote to move it forward to have the discussion\” but was \”very concerned about the unintended consequences.\” Continue reading
Connecticut State University professors are disappointed that Gov. Dannel P. Malloy\’s plan to transform the state universities and community colleges doesn\’t include money to hire more faculty and student support staff.
In a statement issued Wednesday, the professors said they support many of the goals of the $134.5 million \”Transform CSCU 2020\” plan, including efforts to keep tuition low and to increase funding for the Governor\’s Scholarship Program. They also support Malloy\’s plan to lure former students back to school to complete unfinished degrees with the offer of free courses.
\”However, such students who have been away from college for more than 18 months are likely to need additional support,\” the statement from the state universities\’ chapter of the AAUP said.
\”Everything about retention and bringing students back — that all requires faculty and support staff,\” said Elena Tapia, a professor at Eastern Connecticut State University and vice president of the faculty union.
The professors also take issue with the establishment of a $60 million President\’s Office Operating Fund, warning against pooling capital funds for all of the Connecticut State Colleges and University schools. The capital funds for the four regional universities, 12 community colleges, Charter Oak State College — all part of the CSCU system — should remain \”distinct,\” the professors said.
\”We believe the legislature should maintain the ability to channel resources where they are most needed … through separate block grants,\” the professors said.
Tapia said the professors would also like to have a greater voice in the development of plans. \”So far faculty haven\’t been involved,\” Tapia said, \”It\’s been a secret process, really.\”
Among those who will be listening extra closely to the governor’s state of the state on Wednesday is Gregory Gray the president of the state Board of Regents for Higher Education.
Since he arrived on July 1, Gray has been working to shape a transformative plan for the four state universities and 12 community college that he oversees. He figures he’s been talking to the governor about it since July 2.
But it seemed clear in a conversation as recent as Friday, that Gray really doesn’t know for sure if he has the governor’s support on this. (Or if he does know, he’s not letting on. ) “A lot is waiting now to see what he says,” Gray said. “We want his support in any way he can .. and that does not necessarily mean financial.”
Gray said his board is trying to move forward with a plan or as he qualifies it, “a plan for a plan.\”
“If we can get his endorsement on February fifth, I think we can say we really have a plan and can start to pull it together,” Gray said. Continue reading
What if you gave a party and nobody came?
That’s a little how the organizers of the “Winter 2014 Meet & Greet” for members of the Boards of Regents for Higher Education felt late last month. The event was an opportunity for the 13 members of the board to hear from 12 students and alumni of the four state Connecticut State University schools, but not a single board member showed at the Jan. 23 meeting.
“I just think it’s appalling,” said Michael Shea, an English professor from Southern Connecticut State University. “It’s really for the board members to understand what these students are capable of because of the Connecticut State Universities and how important it is for the public to understand why they need to support this school…. We want the board to be the voice to the public about that and they could be a more effective voice if they sort of saw and knew what these students are doing.”
Regents President Gregory Gray did attend and praised the students for their achievement, telling them that that they had surpassed many more obstacles than he faced in getting an education. But the organizers of the event said it was really geared to educate board members, who oversee not only the four state universities but 12 community colleges. Continue reading
According to new data from the Institute for College Access and Success, the average debt load for graduating college students from Connecticut is now $27,816 per kid. For the nation, the average debt is now $29,400 per kid and its growing at a rate of 6 percent a year. Meanwhile, debt varies significantly between different regions and colleges, with students in the East and Midwest borrowing more than those in the South and West. Graduates from Connecticut\’s private colleges are leaving school with among the largest debt loads in the land.
Hundreds of employees in the state university system could receive raises and performance bonuses that total as much as 6.5 percent.
This is from a recent memo:
Quinnipiac President John Lahey, who has presided over a remarkable transformation of the formerly sleepy school, says there are big plans for Whitney Avenue near the university. According to the Quinnipiac Chronicle, Lahey envisions transforming the area:
“We want to turn that whole strip along Whitney Avenue into a very much collegiate neighborhood,” he said.
With the strip, the university plans to add a Quinnipiac Inn, a Quinnipiac theater for the theater program and more attractions such as Starbucks and Barnes and Nobles, according to Lahey.
“It’s improving, but it’s not what I would say an esthetically beautiful collegiate sort of strip there,” he said.
The university is also in the process in buying “as many of the houses along Whitney Avenue there are possible,” Lahey said.
This caught Hamden Mayor Scott Jackson\’s attention:
… this is not Quinnipiac, CT, it is Hamden, CT. Just as the university does not exist to serve the town and its residents, neither does the town and its residents exist to serve the university.
He is \”a terrific university president who needs the accompaniment of an adult.\”
Read about the long decline of Evan Dobelle after he left Frog Hollow.
This weekend, Congressman Joe Courtney told Laurie Perez and Al Terzi that the federal government should do more to pare back the country\’s $1 trillion in student debt and he said he supports President Obama\’s proposal to start ranking colleges based on the fates of their students.
\”It\’s time that we start looking at the $150 billion we spend on student assistance and not sort of treating all colleges necesarrily the same,\” said Courtney, a Democrat from the eastern part of the state.
Congress is expected to debate major college financial aid legislation when it gets back to work this fall. Courtney has been a big player in the debate on college costs this year.
You might remember that he was looking right over Obama\’s shoulder as the president signed student loan compromise legislation earlier this summer.
From the college finance website NerdScholar:
And the best?