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CONTACT: Mike Lisi (518) 640-6600
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January 19, 2010

UUP to Governor: Stop slashing SUNY’s budget

ALBANY – Gov. Paterson’s proposed Executive Budget threatens to make an already bad situation at the State University of New York even worse, according to United University Professions President Phillip H. Smith.

The governor’s proposed budget for 2010-11 would cut SUNY’s operating budget by $118 million. Combined with $410 million in budget reductions during the past two years, SUNY would be losing more than half a billion dollars in state support.

“SUNY is already suffering under the enormous weight of the previous budget cuts, with larger class sizes and fewer course offerings, robbing more and more students of the ability to graduate on schedule,” Smith said. “Any new reductions could deny the next generation of New Yorkers the opportunity to learn the skills they need to support themselves and to become the employees New York needs to attract new business.”

Smith is urging state lawmakers to reject the $118 million cut to SUNY.

“We are not ignoring the fact that New York is facing a fiscal crisis, but the state can’t afford to sacrifice its future,” Smith said. “SUNY is an investment that will pay off by producing a workforce with the talent it takes to bring jobs to the state and rejuvenate its economy.”

Smith also expressed serious reservations about the governor’s proposal to increase so-called “flexibility” for SUNY, which would empower the University to unilaterally raise tuition, and enter into leases, contracts and joint ventures, without strong legislative oversight.

“Historically, whenever SUNY has raised its tuition, the amount of state support going to SUNY is cut,” Smith warned. “Students and their parents would wind up paying more and getting less. Equal access to the University would no longer be possible, because tens of thousands of students would not be able to afford the higher tuition at some campuses. Standardized tuition ensures equal access to all SUNY campuses.”

Smith said public accountability and transparency would be seriously eroded in the absence of legislative scrutiny. “Going down this road moves the University on a hazardous path toward privatization,” he said.

Smith also said the Executive Budget fails to adequately fund SUNY’s hospitals. Specifically, the budget lacks $74.5 million to cover mandatory costs, and changes to Medicaid funding would impact hospital programs and services.

He also expressed concern about the fate of the New York State Theatre Institute. He urged lawmakers to reject the governor’s proposal to eliminate state funding for NYSTI.

UUP is the nation's largest higher education union, with more than 42,000 academic and professional faculty and retirees. UUP members work at 29 New York state-operated campuses, including SUNY’s public teaching hospitals and health science centers in Brooklyn, Long Island and Syracuse. It is an affiliate of NYSUT, the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association, and the AFL-CIO.


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