Several hundred academic and professional faculty with United University Professions, along with members of their affiliate, New York State United Teachers, urged elected officials today to reverse proposed cuts to the State University of New York budget. SUNY, a 64-campus system that includes three hospitals, is reeling from nearly $215 million in budget reductions this fiscal year (which ends March 31). That has led to fewer classes, job freezes, limits on enrollment and other difficulties at campuses, according to the unions.
For 2009-10, Gov. David Paterson has proposed reducing state operating funds by 80 percent of what a SUNY tuition hike would bring in, using campus reserves and cutting state aid for community colleges by 10 percent. The governor’s budget would cut the state subsidy for the hospitals—located in Brooklyn; Stony Brook, Suffolk County; and Syracuse—by $25 million. Instead of cuts, the hospitals should receive a $40 million increase, the unions said. UUP is asking lawmakers to give its members their negotiated 3 percent salary increase in 2009-10, which has not been included in the governor’s budget.
Union members, who rallied outside the Capitol, said Paterson’s recommended budget for 2009-10 would make things more difficult for SUNY. They warned that thousands of students would be shut out of a public education and fewer patients would be treated at SUNY’s three teaching hospitals unless lawmakers provide more funding. Members carried signs with messages like, “Keep SUNY open to all,” “Save SUNY now” and “Protect SUNY hospital patients.”
“SUNY is an important part of the economy of New York,” UUP President Phillip Smith said during the rally. “In fact, SUNY may be one of the only solutions to bring this state out of its economic crisis.”