Thursday, March 25, 2010

Go Time! We're Having a Special SUNY Fredonia University Senate Meeting on the Budget

I'm calling a special University Senate meeting (next Monday, March 29th, at our usual time and place), to discuss and vote on a special budget resolution that the Executive Committee has developed in concert with leaders from both the Fredonia administration and the United University Professions chapter, and which parallels key provisions of a resolution being voted on by the Student Assembly this evening.

The impetus for this special meeting and resolution came from yesterday's visit by state-wide UUP President Phil Smith. Even though my strong suspicion from the end of last week that the Public Higher Education Empowerment and Innovation Act is dead in the State Assembly has a 99.99% chance of being confirmed tonight or tomorrow morning, Phil indicated in both his public address and in private meetings that he supports certain aspects of the budget resolution from the State Senate. Given that the Senate and Assembly have to reconcile their budget bills in conference committees, and that everything in both is on the table, there's one last chance to push for measures that everyone here agrees would be good for the SUNY system and the hundreds of thousands of people it educates and employs.

The final draft of the resolution is scheduled for final wordsmithing tomorrow morning, but what's unlikely to change is its conclusion:

Be it resolved, the University Senate of the State University of New York at Fredonia supports four key provisions contained in the recently passed New York State Senate Budget Resolution:

1. Allow the Board of Trustees to set undergraduate tuition within the confines of an annual "cap." Further, the Senate recommends that a fixed "cap" in the range of 8% to 10% be utilized in lieu of a HEPI-generated limit to provide for better predictability and to avoid excessive fluctuations.
2. Eliminate the "tax on tuition" by returning to the campuses 100% of the tuition they collect.
3. Move SUNY funds from State Assistance to Local Assistance, thereby placing SUNY into the same budgetary category as CUNY and community colleges.
4. Support the elimination of unnecessary duplication in the pre-approval process for construction and "goods" contracts.

Be it further resolved, the University Senate of the State University of New York at Fredonia urges the State of New York to make a commitment to "maintenance of effort" in the provision of state dollars, and to avoid using tuition increases as a mechanism for moving away from covering mandatory costs, especially during normal budget years.

And, Be it finally resolved, the University Senate of the State University of New York at Fredonia directs the Senate Chair to forward this resolution to the Governor and to all members of the New York State Legislature.

This is still very much the art of the possible, but if state-wide UUP throws its influence behind these 5 ideas, relations between the State of New York and the State University of New York could start heading in a better direction.  Oh, and we might be able to avoid having some very difficult discussions and decisions here at Fredonia and across the SUNY system.

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