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NY Governor Orders 11% Cuts: Higher Education the "Big Loser"

October 7, 2009

NEW YORK - Gov. David Paterson has initiated some major midyear budget cuts, with higher education, state prisons and public health taking the biggest hits.

The State University of New York's (SUNY) budget has been slashed by $90 million, a sum that Phillip H. Smith, president of United University Professions calls "draconian." In his view, SUNY is being forced to shoulder more than its fair share of the state's budget crisis.

"The clear message here for SUNY is, turn off the heat, turn off the lights, don't buy any more chalk; and oh, by the way, if you can get rid of the professors - do that, too."

In fact, the single biggest cut in the state budget is to SUNY. The City University of New York (CUNY) budget is also being trimmed by $53 million, although Smith says the CUNY cut will require legislative approval. In the meantime, he is shocked that the governor selected higher education to make up for so much of the state's fiscal burden.

"The $90 million represents a full 18 percent of the cuts to all agencies. This is incredible. I'm appalled, I'm disgusted, I can't believe the governor would put such a huge cut out against SUNY."

The second largest cut, $69 million, is slated for the state's corrections system. Paterson has said the additional cuts are necessary because of the state's persistent financial difficulties. Education advocates warn that his approach to the budget crisis will hold the state back in the long term, with repercussions for the entire New York economy.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NY