Published March 30, 2015
Last year, the state Legislature added $7.6 million to SUNY’s budget allocation to help fund contractually obligated salary increases for employees. The bad news was that figure didn’t go very far, since the total for those increases was around $88 million.
There’s more bad news this year: Gov. Andrew Cuomo is looking to take even that $7 million away, Laura Hubbard, vice president for finance and administration, told members of the Professional Staff Senate at Thursday’s general membership meeting.
“What I read into that is the governor is saying, ‘I don’t intend to fund those salary increases out of state funding.’ By extension, I assume he thinks we should be using tuition dollars to pay for those increases,” Hubbard said during a budget and capital planning update.
Cuomo submitted his proposed state budget in January and lawmakers in Albany are reviewing and revising it. “We don’t know yet what is going to come out of that process (for SUNY),” Hubbard said, adding that more will be known in the next few weeks. The state Senate’s budget bill would make it clear the state is required to fund collectively bargained salary costs, she noted.
The governor’s proposed budget holds 10 percent of SUNY’s state appropriation until the SUNY Board of Trustees adopts performance improvement plans for each of its campuses. “It doesn’t mean we don’t get that money. It just means it’s sort of held until we’ve met that requirement,” Hubbard explained. Cuomo allocated an additional $18 million for SUNY based on those performance improvement plans. “The way that works is, whatever performance metrics the SUNY Board of Trustees might adopt, if you meet or exceed those, potentially you get more money in your budget,” Hubbard said.
While SUNY’s outlook for state funding isn’t great, it could be worse. Wisconsin and Illinois are proposing big cuts to higher education, and state lawmakers in Arizona want to defund higher education, Hubbard said, adding, “A lot of states are just in a squeeze financially.”
On the capital budget side, Cuomo is providing $200 million to SUNY for critical maintenance projects. However, the state Legislature may double that figure.
Also of note, next year is the final year of the rational tuition program, which has to be approved by the state Legislature. “We would like to see that extended,” Hubbard said.