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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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The Statesman

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    State Budget Proposal Leaves University $8.3 million short

    Stony Brook may soon be feeling the effects of New York State’s $4.6 billion budget deficit after Gov. David Paterson announced plans to cut funding to the State University of New York (SUNY) system by 4.5 percent. Leaving administrators at the university — who once looked forward to flagship recognition — shaking their heads.

    Two governors result in two budget cuts for higher education. In his proposal for the 2008-09 New York State budget, former Gov. Eliot Spitzer planned on a 2.5 percent funding cut to the SUNY system. Now Governor Paterson has a budget proposal of his own which adds an additional 2 percent cut.

    The governor hopes the cut will help to bring under control the growing deficit.

    The finalized budget is expected to pass on Apr. 1. If the New York State Legislature passes the 4.5 percent cut, Stony Brook will be forced to look for alternative ways to regain the $8.3 million loss in funding, according to Dan Melucci, Associate Vice President for Strategy Planning and Analysis.

    Stony Brook’s fiscal year runs from Jul.1 to Jun. 30. This means that Stony Brook has from April until June to allocate its funding before it must submit its own budget. “It gives SUNY a three-month cushion if we have to cut,” said Melucci.

    The school does not know how it will cut costs if the 4.5 percent decrease is approved by the legislature. “I did not hear one mention of raising tuition,” said Melucci.

    He hopes increased enrollment, one of the goals in President Kenny’s Five Year Plan, helps offset the funding cut. Increased enrollment is a way to offset the cost but is not looked at as a way of raising revenue, Melucci assures.

    Increased enrollment also leads to an increase in expenses, such as a need for more housing, professors and classrooms.

    The Provost’s office plans on hiring new faculty if cutbacks are not an issue. “If cutbacks are an issue, any wish for new faculty goes out the door,” said Deputy Provost Brent Lindquist.

    The school does not know what departments would receive faculty increases. “Our plans are not firmed up because we are not sure what the problems are,” said Lindquist.

    Other SUNY schools would also suffer. SUNY New Paltz could loose up to $1 million from its operating budget according to the campus paper The New Paltz Oracle.

    While Spitzer planned on cutting funding, he also hopes to soften the blow. In his State of the State address to New York in January 2008, then Gov. Spitzer said, “Higher education funding should no longer be a budgetary pawn or a yearly battle. It must be a permanent priority.”

    Spitzer planned to create a $4 billion endowment for all SUNY and CUNY (City University of New York) schools by selling off the state lottery to a private enterprise.

    “We are very disappointed both in the way the economy turned, and Governor Spitzer,” said Melucci. “He was almost apologetic about the funding cut.”

    Higher education is one of many programs that wait for Apr. 1 with baited breath.

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