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Archive Notes - August 2010

On August 3, the Legislature finally passed the New York State budget.
Unfortunately, they failed to pass the Public Higher Education
Empowerment and Innovation Act (PHEEIA), while approving millions of
dollars in cuts to the State University of New York. The Legislators
missed an opportunity to create comprehensive reform that has the
potential to be transformational for SUNY and of tremendous service to
the state. Rather, their action will further imperil jobs within SUNY
and inhibit our ability to provide a quality education to our students,
while leaving families to continue to play ?tuition roulette? in the

State funding for SUNY as a whole has now been slashed by
30 percent over the past three years. At the same time, the
Legislature refused to allow the modest tuition increase approved by the
Trustees that would have helped to offset a small fraction of the lost
revenue. The preliminary numbers coming from Albany indicate that the
appropriation this campus will receive is within the range of scenarios
for which we have been planning in our budget process; nevertheless, it
is still disappointing.

Arguments from the Legislature in
opposition to the PHEEIA have been couched in terms of protecting those
least able to pay for tuition increases. The reality is that, over the
last half century, the Legislature has systematically pushed more of the
cost of education on to the shoulders of those very same students.
Additionally, the last time tuition was increased the Legislature took
90% of the increase to fill the State?s budget gap. In truth, the
Legislature is loath to give up control over the allocation and
appropriation of funds to SUNY.

I want to thank everyone who
wrote letters or otherwise helped in the advocacy for the PHEEIA. Our
local chamber of commerce, local business leaders, the Student
Government Association, the University Faculty Senate, and many others
supported this effort. We need to let them know how appreciative we are
of their support in this cause. Chancellor Zimpher has made it clear
that the issues raised in the PHEEIA will not go away. Although we have
not succeeded in this Legislature, we will continue to press for these
needed reforms.

I hope that lawmakers can work together to pass
SUNY reform, so that all of our campuses can be given the financial
flexibility we need to grow. At SUNY Potsdam, this is more important now
than ever, as the College sees increasing enrollments and a record
incoming first-year class, at the same time that our operating budget
has been drastically reduced and SUNY has not been allowed to raise
tuition levels.

Please continue to communicate with your elected officials to seek some legislative assistance for SUNY.