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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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The Statesman

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    Stony Brook May Face Additional $17 Million in Budget Cuts

    If no legislative action is taken, Stony Brook University could face another $17 million in budget cuts in the coming fiscal year, making the total budget reduction $61.7 million over two years, according to Elizenda Mondesir of the Stony Brook budget office.

    The university has sustained three rounds of budget cuts in the last year, but there are plans for additional cuts if no changes are made to Gov. David Paterson’s proposed state budget.

    The first cut took effect April 2008 and amounted to $7.4 million, and the second cut in the fall lessened the budget by $12.5 million for this and next year. $9.2 million of this $12.5 million needs to be cut by the end of this fiscal year.

    The latest cut of $24.8 million, which occurred this past December, included a raise in tuition costs by $310 for in-state students per semester starting in spring 2009. Stony Brook can only retain 10 percent of this increase this year and 20 percent the next year.

    According to Mondesir, the fraction of the tuition they are allowed to keep will not help ease the cuts the budget has already taken.

    “We are strenuously opposed to tuition dollars being used to fill the state’s budget gaps,” Mondesir said. “Our goal is to protect the academic and research areas to the best of our ability.”

    According to Mondesir the Provost is taking the smallest percentage cut of all the affected departments, with an 8 percent reduction, or $9.2 million, compared to the 10 to 20 percent reduction in other areas, such as Student Affairs, University Advancement and Athletics.

    In anticipation of a poor fiscal climate, the university cut nearly $25 million, when only $20 million was called for. However, the university may still be short by $12 million if the new cuts are implemented. “The $17 million [cut] has not happened yet, but it will if the governor’s budget is unmitigated by legislative action,” Mondesir said.

    The university is calling for students to help push the legislature to change the governor’s budget and reduce cuts to Stony Brook and the whole SUNY system and has posted an “Advocacy Toolkit” on their website, accessible at stonybrook.edu/sb/advocacy.

    In addition to this, a new Revenue Generation and Incentive program was implemented that allows academic areas to retain 70 percent of the revenue that they receive.

    According to Kenny, the university was allowed to raise tuition to help soften the blow of budget cuts in past years. This year, after the first two cuts were imposed, the university was allowed to raise tuition as they normally would.

    However, the third cuts required that 90 percent of the new revenue brought in by the tuition increase be handed over to the state. “A third set of cuts was imposed that was 90 percent of that tuition increase, which meant that the tuition that the students were paying was not going to fill that hole created by the first two cuts,” Kenny said. “The tuition money that the students pay should go towards education.”

    New York State Sen. John Flanagan criticized the Deficit Reduction Plan, a plan currently being enacted to close gaps in the state budget, stating that it was negotiated privately by only three legislative leaders and also shortsighted.

    “It’s ill-advised and short-sighted,” Flanagan said in reference to the state claiming 90 percent of the tuition increase. “It undermines the credibility of the whole system.”

    Flanagan went on to say, “The governor’s budget proposal actually increases spending. It’s true. State spending is up overall.” Not long after mentioning this, an audience member asked, “If revenue is down, where is the money coming from?”

    “It’s coming from you,” replied Flanagan. “You, and all the other people in this room.” Flanagan encouraged members of the Stony Brook community to get involved in the issue. “You need to fight to stop it. You need to fight and make sure your voice is heard. Don’t take no for an answer.”

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