At three of the four Connecticut State University campuses, the president receives an extra $25,000 each year to spend without having to provide any documentation, according to university documents obtained by The Associated Press.
The fourth president receives $35,000 a year for her housing costs in lieu of the ''unvouchered accommodation accounts,'' the AP reported, citing human resources policies that spell out all the compensation and benefits for the four presidents.
The $25,000 payments are given to Central Connecticut State University President John Miller, Eastern Connecticut State University President Elsa Nunez and Western Connecticut State University President James Schmotter.
Southern Connecticut State University President Mary Papazian gets a $35,000 housing allowance instead, according to university system records.
Spokesmen at all four campuses referred questions about the money to the Board of Regents.
The policies, obtained by the AP through public records requests, provide a host of other benefits to the presidents, including state-owned cars, paid sabbatical leaves, special payments based on years of service and bonuses linked to job evaluations. Those perks are in addition to their $290,000-plus salaries, paid vacation and sick days and other benefits.
University presidents across the country receive similar compensation benefits, but some Connecticut lawmakers are questioning whether taxpayer money should be used for such perks with the state facing a $365 million deficit this fiscal year and projected $1 billion deficits in each of the next four years.
''We're in a tough place, because if you look at the bottom line we can't afford it,'' said Canton state Rep. Timothy LeGeyt, the ranking Republican on the legislature's higher education committee. ''I think that their compensation packages are very full. On the flip side, we want to be competitive. These people come here and say they want to be compensated fairly.''
The four presidents receive the extra cash in installments in every one of their paychecks through the year, a university system spokeswoman said.
LeGeyt said he wasn't aware the presidents received the money until being told by the AP.