ALBANY, N.Y. April 30, 2008 - The 600,000-member New York State United Teachers today rejected a state budget division plan to seize nearly $110 million in SUNY revenue and is calling on Governor David Paterson to reverse what the union called a "poorly thought-out money grab" that would devastate New York's public higher education system.
NYSUT President Richard C. Iannuzzi said that by withholding money that SUNY receives from tuition, dormitory fees and other payments, the state budget division is "taking tuition and fees paid by students and their families for services that are then going to be cut."
"It's the wrong approach at the wrong time. In tough economic times, the state should be investing more in SUNY and in the students who will ultimately fill the high-quality jobs created by business here in New York," Iannuzzi said. "It makes little sense to lure new, high-tech businesses to upstate New York without the educated workforce in place to fill those jobs because of chronic underfunding for SUNY and other public colleges and universities."
NYSUT Executive Vice President Alan B. Lubin said the union - along with its higher-education affiliate United University Professions - is urging the governor to reverse course and allow SUNY to spend the revenues it collects to serve students and patients at public hospitals. He said the nearly $110 million in spending freezes, coming on top of a $38.7 million budget cut, "is a poorly thought out money grab that would deny SUNY students access to courses, increase class sizes and reduce the quality of education that the university system offers."
Lubin noted SUNY enrollment is at a record high, and research shows that for every $1 spent on SUNY campuses, an additional $8 is returned to the local community. "This is precisely the time we should be investing more in SUNY as the spark that will ignite upstate New York's economic revitalization," Lubin said. "Governor Paterson is a supporter of public higher education and understands the importance of having a strong SUNY system. We're calling on him to reject this damaging plan that hurts students and SUNY."
NYSUT represents some 600,000 teachers, school-related professionals, academic and professional faculty in higher education, professionals in education and health care and retirees. NYSUT is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association and the AFL-CIO.