Dec. 24, 2008: Budget cuts would be devastating

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Editor’s Note: The following letter was sent to Gov. David Paterson. The author requested that it be reprinted here.
Dear Governor Paterson:
The College Council of the State University College of Technology at Delhi sincerely appreciates the opportunity the Governor’s Office has provided us to serve the citizens of New York State as representatives of this outstanding educational institution.
We also understand New York State is facing a financial crisis of historical proportions and that the State University system must share in the budget solution plan and has done so, absorbing $210 million in reductions during the current fiscal year. At SUNY Delhi, nearly $2 million or 15 percent of our operating budget has been cut. As a result, 24 positions have been left vacant, academic equipment replacement and purchases have been eliminated, additional drastic energy conservation measures have been implemented, and we are drawing heavily on campus reserves. Students are feeling the impact of these cuts and we are extremely concerned that any further reductions will dramatically impact the delivery of a quality education and services to our students.
The State University Board of Trustees has advanced a budget plan for 2009-2010 that will help restore the budget cuts absorbed this year and begin building for the future. We urge your support for the SUNY plan which includes a $310 tuition increase in January. Your budget proposal called for taking 90 percent of the tuition increase to help meet the state budget deficit. Given the budget cuts that SUNY has already absorbed, it is imperative for the campuses to retain the full tuition increase.
A Rational Tuition Policy is the next important step. SUNY’s tuition is among the nation’s lowest and has had only one significant increase in the last 13 years, a period of record enrollment. The Commission on Higher Education identified the lack of a rational tuition policy as a major impediment to the long-term viability of SUNY. A rational tuition plan would allow SUNY to provide an accessible, affordable and quality education to our students. It will also allow parents to plan for their educational costs.
The SUNY budget plan also calls for greater flexibility to expand public-private partnerships and to provide administrative and operational flexibility for SUNY and the SUNY Construction Fund. It would provide for increased revenues and increased efficiencies in operations.
This is the time to invest in public higher education. For every $8 in state support it receives, SUNY generates $8 million in economic impact, returning more than $27 billion annually into the state economy. We urge you to provide SUNY campuses with the funds they need to prepare graduates to lead New York’s economic recovery and revitalization. Your support of the plan developed by the SUNY Board of Trustees will be greatly appreciated.
Sincerely,

Benjamin C. Nesbitt, Chair
SUNY Delhi College Council