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Protest Today to Stop SUNY Cuts “Affecting Thousands”

January 30, 2009

Albany, NY — More than 600 educators plan a protest rally in Albany today (Friday), claiming thousands of students will be denied an education and hundreds of teaching positions will be left vacant if the state's proposed education funding cuts become reality.

According to United University Professions President Phillip Smith, SUNY brings research money and jobs to every part of the state. He says many campuses are the largest employers in towns and cities already fighting for their economic lives - a big reason educators are asking New York lawmakers to restore funding.

"Overall, SUNY pumps about $75 million per day into New York's economy. SUNY, unlike any other agency, is capable of creating a positive economy in New York."

Gov. Paterson has cut more than $200 million from higher education budgets, and says all state agencies need to do their share to help the state find its way out of a multi-billion dollar deficit. However, Smith believes lawmakers must restore higher education funding to a reasonable level, as an engine that can prompt economic growth. He says SUNY, for example, turns out high-quality workers, 80 percent of whom stick around to pay taxes in New York after graduation. The state also must plan ahead, he warns, for workers losing jobs.

"Particularly in today's economy, we have all seen the news reports about various companies laying off workers, and shutting down or moving elsewhere. All of these workers are going to be seeking retraining, and they're going to be showing up on the doorsteps of SUNY."

Although SUNY students are being hit with a $600 tuition increase, Smith points out that less than a quarter of that money will actually go to fund SUNY. Members of New York State United Teachers will be among the rally participants.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NY