Study: CSCU system adds $11.1B to state
According to an economic impact study commissioned by the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system, the system contributed $11.1 billion to the state’s annual income in 2016-17.
The Idaho-based economic modeling firm Emsi presented its findings of the economic impact the CSCU system has on the state in a presentation to stakeholders at Gateway Community College in New Haven on Thursday.
“Everyone here today knows we deliver real value to the state of Connecticut, but we also know we have to be responsible stewards to those who invested in us,” said system President Mark Ojakian. “We needed an analysis to tell the story.”
Ojakian, a former chief of staff to the outgoing Gov. Dannel Malloy, has been president of the system since 2015. He said he hopes an analysis will be useful to the General Assembly and Gov.elect Ned Lamont as they focus on appropriations in the future.
Hannah Ruffridge, assistant director of consulting for higher education with Emsi, said in 2016-17 the state’s gross product was $273 billion, making the $11.1 billion contributed to the state nearly 4.1 percent of the gross state product for that year.
She said that, “through the multiplier effect,” about one in 19 jobs in Connecticut is supported by the four universities and 13 colleges in the CSCU system, which includes every public school except for the University of Connecticut.
As far as return on investment goes, Ruffridge said, students could expect to recieve an average of $6.60 in lifetime earnings for every dollar invested in the CSCU system; for every tax dollar invested in the system, she said, taxpayers earn $3.80 in value back.
“I think the taxpayer perspective is increasingly important,” Ojakian said, saying the study should demonstrate to the General Assembly that the CSCU system is “a worthy investment.”
Part of Emsi’s analysis relied on the projection that, without the CSCU system in place, 15 percent of the students in the system from 2016-17 would have received an education elsewhere before returning to Connecticut to contribute to its economy.
“A lot of it comes down to proximity when it comes to community colleges,” Ruffridge said.
Although Ruffridge referred to Emsi as a “conservative” firm in how it calculates its totals, other recent analyses by Emsi show that the CSCU system may not have as much of a local impact on the state as other higher education systems do relative to their state economies.
According to the Dayton Business Journal, an Emsi economic impact study found that Ohio’s 14 four-year public universities contributed to 6.7 percent of the state’s gross state product and to one in 12 jobs. In New Jersey’s Union County, the Bridgewater Courier News reported, an Emsi economic impact study of Union County College found the school returned $8.40 for every dollar spent by taxpayers in the county, $1.80 more per dollar than what CSCU offers to the state, per the analyses.
According to state Rep. Toni Walker, D-New Haven, chairwoman of the state appropriations committee, she sees the study as “a good way of approaching this new year.”
“We have to look at this as we start to do our budget,” she said, adding that it will be important for workforce training to be aligned with available jobs.