Losing the green

The SUNY system has been ordered to cut $90 million in current-year spending as part of an announcement by Gov. David A. Paterson to reduce state expenses, pending approval by state legislature.

Paterson issued an 11 percent budget reduction to all state agencies in an effort to reduce state spending by $500 million.

The budget cuts to the SUNY system will be made in this fiscal year to try and reduce the state deficit. The cuts made to each agency are from the non-personal service budget, which includes travel expenses, printing fees and energy expenses.

Oswego State President Deborah Stanley said the university is disappointed that SUNY schools continue to be the answer to the state budget crisis, because of the positive economic contributions to the state.

"The long term investment in New York state future is what SUNY does," Stanley said. "It’s a very deep cut for SUNY to suffer."

Stanley also said the college has specific funding to deal with these situations, but the constant cuts to the SUNY system may be tough to deal with.

"The cuts that were just announced will be very difficult to absorb," Stanley said.

Vice President of Finance and Administration at Oswego State, Nicholas Lyons, said that cuts made to the SUNY school system were anticipated as a possible solution to the state budget woes.

"I’m not surprised that another reduction was coming," Lyons said. "The state is not doing well financially. We anticipated that something like this was going to happen and we have reserves in place that should be able to mitigate this."

Lyons also added that students would not see a change in service or quality at the university, even though it will be a challenge. The goal, Lyons said, is to make the budget cuts invisible to students.

SUNY funding was cut $146 million in 2008. In addition to affecting SUNY schools, the budget cuts also took funding from the City University of New York system, which saw a $53 million reduction in their budget. In the plan, $143 million would be taken from New York State Public Higher Education services.

Julie Blissert, director of public affairs at Oswego State, said that the way in which the cuts are implemented could make a difference on the specific cost to the university.

"If they cut the state appropriation that comes to us, we’d be looking at $1 to $1.5 million in cuts," Blissert said. "But if they make the cuts in the same way that they did last year, it would be on the overall financial plan and it would be over $2 million."

The SUNY Student Assembly released a statement condemning the Governor’s actions as finding the short-term solution when a long-term one is needed. Juliette Price, director of communications for the SUNY Student Assembly and a senior at SUNY Oneonta, said cuts would affect the quality of education in the SUNY system.

"Gov. Paterson needs to understand that SUNY isn’t the problem, it’s the solution," Price said.

In a statement released on Tuesday, Oct. 6 by the SUNY Student Assembly, president of SUNY Student Assembly Melody Mercedes said that Gov. Paterson was pulling support to the state’s most important asset and best return investment.

Oswego State Student Association has also expressed distaste for the recent budget cuts announced by Gov. Paterson. Student Association Vice President Stefen Short said that students need to be prepared to fight for their tuition dollars, and that SUNY needs to be used as a long-term solution to the budget problem.

"This is further proof that the fight for our tuition dollars is a never-ending battle," Short said. "The SUNY system is built on access for all. If the state continues to downplay its best return investment, SUNY will begin to move away from its clear purpose."

Also affected in the Governor’s proposed is the New York State Higher Education Services Corporation, which experienced almost $36 million in budget cuts. The HESC provides federal aid to students through the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP), as well as state-specific grants and scholarships.