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March 31, 2014

New state budget increases aid for SUNY, helps safeguard SUNY hospitals

The head of the union that represents academic and professional faculty at the State University of New York today expressed concern that while the enacted state budget took many steps forward, it fell short of providing the resources necessary to meet the university’s growing needs.

“State lawmakers responded to our call to increase state support for SUNY’s state-operated campuses and to safeguard SUNY hospitals, and for that we are extremely grateful,” said UUP President Fred Kowal, Ph.D. He noted that the $7.6 million increase for state-operated campuses is the first increase in state support for SUNY since 2008. “It’s a step in the right direction toward closing the gap created by years of underfunding, but more needs to be done.”

The enacted budget also excludes a proposed pilot program to restructure health care delivery systems by allowing private capital investment in New York State hospitals and other health care facilities. UUP warned that pilot could have opened the door to the privatization of SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn, Stony Brook University Hospital and Upstate Medical University Hospital in Syracuse.

“Allowing the private sector into public hospitals would have endangered the continuation of health services that save lives, but that are often not offered at for-profit hospitals. We thank the Legislature for eliminating this program from the final budget,” Kowal said.

“We are pleased that the enacted budget provides an $87.5 million state subsidy for the SUNY hospitals, which represents a $27.5 million increase from the 2013-14 General Fund appropriation of $60 million. This additional revenue will help all three hospitals, although it is not enough to ensure that they are able to carry out their critical public missions.”

Kowal also praised state lawmakers for answering the union’s call to increase funding to the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) by $1.3 million. EOP provides students from low-income families with financial aid, academic and career counseling.

UUP is the nation's largest higher education union, with more than 37,000 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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