June 12, 2015

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UUP advocacy gains momentum

uupdate 6-12-15

Assembly members put their stamp of approval on one of UUP's top legislative priorities when they passed Maintenance of Effort legislation, 146-1.

Now, UUP advocates are working hard to convince state senators to bring the MOE bill to the floor for a vote before the legislative session tentatively ends June 17.

The June 9 Assembly vote came after two weeks of face-to-face advocacy by dozens of UUPers during a series of regional advocacy days in June. Cortland Chapter members Marc Dearstyne, Jen Drake and Dave Ritchie were among those who came to Albany to ask lawmakers to change the MOE language to include SUNY hospitals and inflationary and mandatory costs. The current MOE only requires the state to provide the same level of funding and fringe benefits of the prior state fiscal year. They thanked Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton (D-Ithaca), left, for her vote in support of the MOE.

But they’re not finished yet.

“It’s important for us to remember that our work isn’t done,” UUP President Fred Kowal said. “We can be proud that our advocacy helped convince the Assembly to pass an important piece of our legislative agenda. But we must continue to make our case to members of the Senate that a genuine Maintenance of Effort is one of the necessary steps to move SUNY forward.”

Making the case for SUNY

In all, more than 55 UUPers from 17 chapters came to the Capitol in June to urge lawmakers to pass legislation that would move SUNY forward and make public higher education accessible to all New Yorkers. Key among them: Create a SUNY endowment, and make campus and research foundations more transparent.

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Stony Brook Chapter President Carol Gizzi, right, told Assemblyman Joseph Saladino (R-Massapequa Park), left, that 14 public university systems across the country have endowments, but not SUNY. UUP contends that a public higher ed endowment could be used to hire additional full-time academic and professional faculty and to make it easier for part-timers to get full-time jobs.

Stony Brook HSC Chapter members, from left, Marge Bryan, Doreen Day and Ed Drummond also urged lawmakers to pass legislation to provide greater accountability and transparency for research foundations and campus foundations. UUP wants legislation that would require SUNY and CUNY research foundations, campus foundations and their subsidiaries to produce an online report disclosing financial records—including data on vendors, employees and general accounting information.

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Oneonta Chapter member Loraine Tyler told an aide to Sen. James Seward (R-Milford) that campuses keep raising fees for students to make up for lost state revenue.

“I wouldn’t be able to afford SUNY if I were a student now,” she said. Pictured with Tyler, from left, are Morrisville Chapter VPA Mike Loudis, Oneonta Chapter President Bill Simons and Richard Tyler of Oneonta.

Members from Albany, Alfred, Buffalo State, Buffalo Center, Brockport, Cobleskill, Cortland, Empire State College, Farmingdale, Fredonia, Morrisville, Old Westbury, Oneonta, Optometry, Stony Brook, Stony Brook HSC and Upstate Medical University took part in Capital District, Western NY, Long Island/NYC and Central NY advocacy days

The advocacy days follow other visits to lawmakers in Albany and in district offices. UUP’s efforts this legislative session led to increases in the state budget for EOP and EOC; the Legislature raised funding for EOP by $5.7 million and for EOC by $1.5 million.

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