Jan 16, 2009

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UUP president takes budget battle to lawmakers

UUP President Phil Smith took the union’s concerns over Gov. Paterson’s proposed Executive Budget directly to state lawmakers.

With NYSUT Executive Vice President Alan Lubin by his side, Smith testified before a joint legislative budget hearing that the State University of New York had endured the largest funding cut of any state agency in the current fiscal year, and could not absorb any further reductions.

“The issue here is whether SUNY can continue to provide accessible public higher education and quality health care for New Yorkers,” Smith said. “I would argue that even during these difficult times, the state must give SUNY the funding it needs to fulfill its core mission.”

Smith devoted much of his testimony to the dangers that would be caused by the governor’s proposed $25 million cut in state funding for SUNY’s three teaching hospitals – Downstate Medical in Brooklyn, Stony Brook University Medical Center and Upstate Medical in Syracuse.

“The quality of health care provided by these institutions is at great risk,” Smith warned. He asked lawmakers to reverse the $25 million cut, and increase the state hospital subsidy by $40 million.

Additionally, Smith appealed to lawmakers to reject the governor’s budget proposal to eliminate this year’s scheduled salary increase for UUP members, saying it would breach the union’s contract with the state. He also urged legislators to vote against proposals for another five-day pay deferral and a new Tier V pension plan.

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