Before tuition and fees increase, minority leader wants public hearing on higher ed fiasco

House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero Jr. is asking the legislature’s Higher Education Committee to hold a public hearing on a trio of missteps by leadership at the state’s college system before any tuition or raises move forward.

The Connecticut Mirror on Thursday reported that the Board of Regents for Higher Education approved a $130 million construction plan that will be paid for in part by increased housing and student fees. The budget chief of the system also said that tuition increases are also unavoidable considering the budget deficit the 17-college system faces in maintaining its existing staff and programs.

Cafero was critical of the board of regent’s timing.

“The first thing they need to do is restore public confidence and support for higher education in the wake of this scandal that has led so far to two resignations within the system,” he said. “The timing of this action could not have been worse.”

“For weeks all the public has heard about the raises that had eventually to be rescinded,” he continued, “and now learn that fees and tuition are going up again.”

Sen. Beth Bye, the co-chairwoman of the Higher Education Committee, said Friday that she “hates” how construction projects are paid for.

“They are financing these projects with hidden fees,” the Democrat from West Hartford said. “I have a real concern about this… Frankly, I think higher ed has lost touch.”

Cafero and the ranking Republican members on the Higher Education Committee have been calling for the legislature to hold a public hearing on the missteps since the news first broke. The Democratic leaders have said they are considering holding a public hearing, but have not yet made a decision.