Paterson: No deal on SUNY-CUNY plan

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Gov. David Paterson today rejected the Legislature’s compromise proposal on a plan that would grant new powers to New York’s public colleges.

Paterson spokesman Morgan Hook said in a statement that “more needs to be done and more details need to provided” before the governor can sign off on the plan, known as the Higher Education Empowerment and Innovation Act.

The program has become the centerpiece battle in finally completing the 2010-11 state budget, which was due on April 1, the start of the fiscal year.   The Legislature has been wary to sign off the college proposal, which would allow individual colleges to set their own tuition rates, undertake economic-development projects and borrow money. The power to raise tuition currently rests with the state Legislature.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan, and Senate Democratic Leader John Sampson, D-Brooklyn, said this week that a broad outline for the proposal had been agreed to.

Legislative leaders were hopeful that their proposal sent to the governor last Tuesday – which included an expiration date for the program and caps on tuition increases – would be approved.

Lawmakers are scheduled back in Albany on Tuesday.

“Senator Sampson is trying to bring the Assembly and governor together to build toward a final agreement,” said Austin Shafran, a spokesman for the Senate Democrats, today.

Sisa Moyo, a spokeswoman for the Assembly Democrats, said talks continued at the staff level on Friday, but no specific deal is in place.

“The Assembly never said there was an agreement,” she said. “There have been positive conversations and those conversations continue.”

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