February 12, 2013

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Union leaders: SUNY and its hospitals require more funds

uupdate 2-12-13

UUP Secretary Eileen Landy tells state lawmakers that state support for SUNY must be increased.

Landy, seated between NYSUT Executive VP Andy Pallotta, left, and NYSUT Director of Legislation Steve Allinger, made the union’s request during a Feb. 11 public hearing conducted by the Senate and Assembly fiscal committees in Albany. Landy told legislators that SUNY is increasingly relying on tuition and fee increases for revenues and doesn’t have the money it needs to improve quality or manage an enrollment increase of 20,000 students.

“Underfunding SUNY threatens the very purpose for which SUNY was created – to ensure that every New Yorker capable of benefiting from a baccalaureate degree program has access to such a program, regardless of affordability,” Landy said. "State aid must be increased. The rational tuition program should not be an excuse to withhold additional state support,” Landy stressed. She presented the testimony on behalf of UUP President Phil Smith, who was unable to attend due to illness.

NYSUT supported UUP’s request, saying the state must make a greater financial commitment to public higher education.

“Two straight years of flat funding to SUNY — coming after years of deep cuts — is not a recipe for either student success or the economic resurgence this state needs,” Pallotta testified.

Landy also asked lawmakers to raise the state subsidy for SUNY’s three teaching hospitals in Brooklyn, Long Island and Syracuse. She requested the subsidy be increased to its former level of $128 million. The proposed budget sets the subsidy at $60 million.

UUP also objected to the budget proposal that would create a private entity that could assume control of Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn.

Prior to UUP’s testimony, SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher told of her decision to withdraw SUNY’s Resource Allocation Model (RAM), which would have cut the amount of state support SUNY doles out to 20 state-operated campuses.

The chancellor told lawmakers that UUP was part of the stakeholder group SUNY listened to in reaching the decision to drop RAM.

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