Governor’s Vetoes Hit Higher Education Hard
Governor Pataki issued the last of his 202 line-item budget vetoes today. In all, the Governor has eliminated nearly $3 billion from the budget the Legislature passed over two weeks ago. College students were among the hardest hit by the Governor’s cuts, losing over $1 billion. The cuts to higher education centered on SUNY operating aid, financial assistance and funding for capital projects. Included in the vetoes to the capital fund was the $10 million secured by Assemblymember Kevin Cahill (D – Ulster, Dutchess) for the long overdue renovation of Old Main on the SUNY New Paltz campus.
“Over the past twelve years, under Governor Pataki, the state’s funding mechanism has failed students, faculty and the citizens of New York. With these latest vetoes, the Governor has cemented his legacy as the anti-higher education Executive,” said Assemblymember Cahill. “If these cuts stand, our students would be driven away by tuition increases and cuts to financial aid. The ones left behind will suffer from a lack of full-time faculty and course offerings while being subjected to facilities reminiscent of those found in third-world countries,” Mr. Cahill said. The Assemblymember was particularly angered by the veto of the Old Main renovation project.
Governor Pataki eliminated the Legislature’s increase to SUNY’s operating budget. Those funds were to be used to increase full-time faculty while holding the line on tuition. Also vetoed was the Legislature’s restoration of the cuts to the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP). The Governor rejected the expansion of TAP to part-time students and a provision that would have allowed financial aid grants to be adjusted to reflect a family hardship, like a call to military service or the death of a family member. Finally, the Executive vetoed almost $800 million dedicated to modernizing aging public university facilities.
“If the state is going to be competitive in the emerging global economy, we need to focus on advancing a comprehensive vision aimed at overhauling our approach to public higher education,” remarked Mr. Cahill. “The best way to prove to the students and families of New York State that we are committed to their future is to override these egregious vetoes as soon as we return to Albany.”