Stony Brook University is reeling from Governor Andrew Cuomo’s budget for 2011-2012, which was released earlier today.
Cuomo calls for a reduction of 10 percent of SUNY’s operating budget, which equates to well over $100 million. Stony Brook University, the system’s second largest campus, expects to lose approximately $12 million, according to university spokeswoman Lauren Sheprow.
In addition, Cuomo is seeking to remove all of the state’s $154 million in subsidies for New York’s three regional teaching hospitals, including Stony Brook University Medical Center, which would lose $55 million in state support.
All told, Stony Brook University is being asked to absorb an estimated $67 million cut, or 30 percent of it’s entire state budget.
“We are surprised by the size of the cuts proposed in the Executive Budget, which – specifically to our teaching hospital – are unprecedented,” said Sheprow in a statement Tuesday evening.
The cuts to Stony Brook are disproportionate to the rest of the SUNY system. Because Stony Brook University operates one of the state’s three teaching hospitals, Cuomo’s cuts are impacting Stony Brook especially hard.
“While other campuses face a 10% cut, it appears that Stony Brook is being asked to absorb approximately a 30% cut in direct state support,” said Sheprow.
This new round of budget reductions would bring the total amount of cuts to well over $600 million over the last three years, almost a third of the entire SUNY operating budget.
Supporters of SUNY were quick to denounce the governor’s budget.
“This latest cut would cripple SUNY’s ability to serve its students and to maintain access,” said Phillip H. Smith, president of the United University Professions in a statement released this evening. “Without question, New York’s 60-year commitment to public higher education is being broken.”
Governor Cuomo’s plan does more than just cut the operating budget of SUNY. He also calls for the enactment of legislation that would clear a path for public/private partnerships, a controversial proposition that failed to pass the state legislature when it was included in the Public Higher Education Empowerment and Innovation Act last year.
The UUP was quick to criticize those plans, calling them “unacceptable” and “not in the best interest of SUNY.”
While Stony Brook University President Samuel Stanley and SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher have been among the most vocal proponents of plans that would allow SUNY campuses to raise tuition to offset state cuts, Governor Cuomo does not agree. During his presentation of the Executive Budget, he announced that there would be no tuition increases as part of his budget.
SUNY released a statement on Tuesday afternoon praising Governor Cuomo’s efforts to help reduce the state deficit, but also expressed disappointment that the budget continues to negatively impact public higher education.
“We remain deeply concerned about our mounting fiscal challenges and how they will impact our ability to provide a quality experience and education for our students,” said SUNY spokesperson Morgan Hook.
The budget will go before the legislature in Albany, where it will undoubtedly face criticism from both sides of the aisle.
Assemblyman Steve Englebright, a Democrat whose district includes Stony Brook University, voiced his concerns about the cuts to the state’s teaching hospitals.
“I think that that kind of a cut is something we need to revisit,” he said. “By definition the hospital is an investment and not a profit center. The idea of removing funding sort of implies the hospital is on its own, that it’s a private institution. It is not.”
Rachel Clark contributed to this story.
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