2008 Board of Trustees Legislative Agenda
OGS Centralized Contracts
Auxiliary services corporations serve essential interests of the State University by providing both commodities and services to the campus communities. Campus food services and book stores are provided by or through auxiliary services corporations on most campuses. In many instances the auxiliary services corporations purchase goods or services from private vendors. On occasion these may already be available through an existing State Office of General Services (OGS) centralized contract, at more favorable terms. However, the auxiliary services corporations are not among those authorized to purchase goods or services under these centralized contracts. As a result, they must go through a time-consuming bidding process to purchase goods or services already available at competitive pricing and terms through OGS. Likewise, campus-related foundations and other SUNY-related non-profit corporations could benefit by participating in centralized contracts of the Office of General Services.
Justification: Authority to purchase services through OGS centralized contracts has been extended to public authorities and public benefit corporations. SUNY’s auxiliary service corporations serve the State University campuses as an agent of the state. Extending the OGS centralized contracts will greatly assist the campuses.
Fiscal Impact: There is no direct fiscal impact to the state; however, SUNY’s related not-for-profit organizations may generate fiscal efficiencies due to their ability to purchase goods and commodities from state contract. It could result in lower costs for students at the retail outlets run by these organizations, as well as additional financial support back to campuses from these not-for-profit organizations.
Criminal History Background
Education Law authorizes the local Board of Trustees of each community college to appoint security officers for the community college and to designate one or more security officers as peace officers. Executive Law authorizes “qualified agencies” to access criminal history record information (CHRI) maintained by the State of New York Division of Criminal Justice Services. (DCJS) This bill will include community colleges as qualified agencies for the purposes of accessing criminal history records.
Justification: The education law authorizes that a security officer designated by the local Board of Trustees of the community college as a peace officer must complete a course of law enforcement training prescribed by the municipal police training council and may possess and carry a firearm, if authorized to do so by the president of the community college. The powers of peace officers pursuant to the Criminal Procedure Law, encompass issuing appearance tickets, effecting searches, making arrests and using physical force as well as deadly physical force. Peace officers at the community colleges campuses discharge the criminal justice functions of prevention, detection, investigation and apprehension with respect to the commission of offenses within their geographical areas of employment for their campuses. Currently, the inability of peace officers to conduct criminal history checks severely hinders their ability to fulfill these functions. Authorizing peace officers to access to criminal history records will enhance the case processing capabilities of the peace officers of the community college campuses.
Fiscal Impact: No direct cost to the college however, this will negate the need for the campus peace offices to request this information from local police departments thereby generating a potential savings in time and personnel.
Police Retirement and Transfer
The University is proud of the men and women who provide for the safety of our campus community. This legislation makes State University Police Officers eligible for the NYS and Local Police and Fire Retirement System, giving them benefits equal to that of their fellow state police units. Specifically, it provides for twenty-five (25) year half-pay retirement and the ability to transfer to and within other police forces or departments in New York State.
Justification: The State University Police Officers receive the same training and work assignments as their counterparts in the state. However, the benefits afforded to the State University Police lag behind that of their state counterparts. This legislation levels the field by permitting State University Police Officers to transfer from the New York State Employees’ Retirement System to the New York State and Local Police and Fire Retirement System and to be covered by the provisions of a new twenty-five (25) year half-pay retirement plan. In addition the proposal will permit existing non-SUNY police officers to seamlessly transfer to SUNY and permit SUNY officers to transfer to other police forces or departments within New York State.
Fiscal Impact: The retirement provisions will create an increase of approximately $1.5 million in the annual contributions of the State of New York to the Local Police and Fire Retirement System for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2009. In addition there will be an immediate past service cost of approximately $13.0 million which would be borne by the State of New York along with an increase in annual contributions for future State University Police Officers, who would be Tier 2 members of the New York State and Local Police and Fire Retirement System. With respect to the transfer portion of this bill, there is no direct fiscal impact; however, with the enactment of this legislation, the University anticipates that there will be fewer State University trained police officers who will leave SUNY’s employment for alternative police agencies due to the equalization of benefits across the state. In actuality, SUNY may see an influx of trained police officers transferring into the SUNY police force for the same reasons.
Retirement Programs for Medical, Dental and Optometric Interns and Residents
The State University, in the operation of its medical, dental, optometric schools, must provide experiential internships and residencies for these students. This legislation clarifies the law in relation to retirement options for medical, dental and optometric residents and interns who provide services at health-related SUNY facilities, specifying that they are not eligible to participate in the Optional Retirement Program (ORP) but may opt to participate in the New York State and Local Employees’ Retirement System.
Justification: In October 2002, the Office of the State Comptroller rendered an opinion that residents and interns are required to join the Optional Retirement Program (ORP), the Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS) or the State and Local Employees’ Retirement System (ERS). Since then, the TRS informed the University that only employees in faculty or select academic titles are eligible to participate in their system. The State University has made a similar policy decision relative to the ORP. Teaching Assistants and Graduate Assistants within the State University are solely eligible for enrollment in ERS and enrollment for them is optional. The educational employment of residents and interns is very similar to that of Teaching Assistants and Graduate Assistants, and therefore the residents and interns should be offered the same option. Enrollment in ERS requires a contribution from the resident or intern of 3% of his or her salary, thus providing them an option to contribute to a retirement plan at this time in his or her educational employment.
Fiscal Impact: Approximately one thousand (1,000) students participate annually in residency and internship programs of the health-related facilities of the State University. The estimated cost to the State University health-related facilities resulting from the participation by these residents and interns in the Optional Retirement Program is approximately $3.5 million dollars annually. Allowing solely for optional participation by the students in the ERS would result in significantly less annual cost, generating a significant savings to SUNY and the state.
Indemnity Protection for Students
In the course of students completing their degree requirements, many participate in clinical and other field placements at sites of college affiliates. The University currently obtains liability insurance for these students separate from the state’s general liability. This proposal extends defense and indemnity under the Public Officers Law to students of the State University who are required, as part of course work, to participate in clinical or other field placement programs at sites of affiliates.
Justification: There are approximately 10,000 students currently enrolled in clinical or other experiential programs throughout the State. While this is part of their state higher education experience, the University believes that liability coverage for these students should be covered by the state, as these students are working as part of their “public” higher education coursework.
Fiscal Impact: The cost of liability insurance for the 10,000 students has escalated from $180,000 in 1994 to over $753,000 in 2004. During this time, there have been only thirteen (13) claims filed against such students for injuries sustained to patients or others during a clinical or experiential program. To date approximately $150,000 has been expended and only two claims remain open, for which a reserve of $135,000 has been established. Based on the foregoing, it is estimated that this proposal will reduce costs to the State University in excess of $750,000.
ENSURING CAMPUS BASED INITIATIVES
Clinical Services by the College of Optometry
The State University College of Optometry is one of 17 such colleges in the United States. Located in the heart of Manhattan, the facility used to provide patient care for medical assistance recipients, but changes in state rules pertaining to their care have disallowed those services to continue. This legislation would allow Medicaid patients, who are now required to participate in managed care programs, to obtain optometric services at clinics of SUNY Optometry.
Justification: Prior to the requirement that Medicaid patients use managed care facilities, SUNY Optometry served over 7,000 Medicaid patients, generating revenue of approximately $1 million annually. These patients also provided a great resource for intern and residency programs. Allowing these patients to again obtain optometric services from SUNY Optometry will provide an outlet for necessary public health services. At the same time, the college will have the experiential services for its students and the subsequent revenue from the providing of the services.
Fiscal Impact: SUNY Optometry estimates that more than 7,000 patient visits per year and revenue of approximately $1 million has been lost as a result of Medicaid managed care rules. Advancement of this proposal will ensure that the students have access to a strong patient base for their clinic training, thus increasing the overall clinic revenues and potentially re-generating the lost revenue. Furthermore, since Optometry does not receive funding for graduate medical education or bad debt charity care, access to Medicaid managed care patients is critical to meeting the financial needs of the institution.
DASNY Financing of Housing by State University Not-For-Profit Corporations and Associations
The State University provides campus housing for approximately 70,000 students. In many cases, campuses are not able to accommodate all their student housing requests. As campuses look to provide more adequate housing opportunities, it is important for them to have options for construction and financing. This proposal authorizes the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York (DASNY) to construct and finance student, faculty and staff housing through campus-related foundations, auxiliary services corporations, alumni associations, and other not-for-profit corporations and associations.
Justification: When a campus examines options for the construction and financing of dormitory facilities, the option of using campus-related corporations is excluded from construction and financing through DASNY. If a campus chooses the campus-related corporation option, local Industrial Development Agencies are usually consulted. The University would like to make the services and financing of DASNY available to its campuses as a full service option.
Fiscal Impact: No direct fiscal impact to the University System Administration; however, this will permit campus-based projects the opportunity to seek DASNY expertise and participation which could generate a campus-based savings due to lower interest rate bond financing.
MAY 2008: Amends §1676 & 1680 of the Public Authorities Law to authorizes the Dormitory Authority to construct and finance student, faculty and staff housing through campus-related foundations, auxiliary services corporations, alumni associations and other not-for-profit corporations and associations. 2008: S.7841 (LaValle) Corporations
Purchase Land Lease
State University campuses are continually looking at ways to maximize their revenues through philanthropic and non-state sources. This legislation acknowledges that entrepreneurship and authorizes the lease of portions of the State University campus of Purchase College to provide a continuing care retirement community and faculty-staff housing.
Justification: The Purchase College Advancement Corporation, a not-for-profit corporation, is looking to use approximately 55 acres of the Purchase College campus to make improvements for the construction and operation of a retirement community, and faculty and staff housing. There is great local community interest in this project. It is contemplated that in addition to providing affordable retirement housing in this affluent community, the retirement community residents will interact with the College by becoming continuing education students, members of the Neuberger Museum of Art and members of The Performing Arts Center of the College. In addition, they will add an intergenerational component to the life experience of the students at Purchase College. The faculty/staff housing will overcome, in part, the inability of faculty and staff to reside near the College because of the high local real estate costs. This will help greatly in the recruitment and retention of faculty and staff.
Fiscal Impact: The University and the State will receive the benefit of new facilities financed wholly through private resources. In addition, SUNY Purchase will provide housing opportunities for faculty and staff which will lead to better efficiencies in recruitment and retention. The surrounding community will be served through the retirement housing, which will provide an opportunity for intergenerational interaction and participation by these residents in campus programs and philanthropy.
Stony Brook Land Lease
As with the Purchase proposal, State University campuses are continually looking at ways to maximize alternative revenue through philanthropic and non-state sources. This legislation acknowledges the generous donation of an individual for the construction of the Center for Geometry and Physics on the Stony Brook campus.
Justification: The Stony Brook Foundation, the fundraising arm of the State University of New York at Stony Brook, and the Stony Brook Foundation Realty, its real property management affiliate, are proposing to support the design and construction of a building to house a new Center for Geometry and Physics immediately adjacent to the University’s existing mathematics and physics facility. The existing structures, built in the early ‘70’s, no longer fully address the needs of the resident and visiting academic community.
The donor proposes to fund the design and construction of a new 25,000 square foot building to be used exclusively for the purpose of housing the activities and operations of the Center, including faculty offices, administration space, common rooms, seminar/class rooms and an auditorium. In doing so, the donor seeks to encourage the pursuit and promotion of individual and collaborative research programs, the training of graduate students from related university departments and the conduct of lectures and seminars in subjects of interest to physicists, mathematicians, architects, engineers, economists and market theorists, to name a few.
The new building will be erected in an area contiguous to the existing campus mathematics and physics towers, utilizing existing access / egress routes, utility connections, parking areas and support structures where appropriate. In keeping with the innovative direction of recent campus construction and New York State’s emphasis on energy efficiencies, the Center’s design will blend functionality with environmental integrity, thereby creating an atmosphere conducive to intellectual curiosity, creativity and world-class research.
Fiscal Impact: A $15 million donation will be applied to the construction of the Center which will address the total cost of the project.
Stony Brook Land Lease (PILOT)
Generally, land owned by the State is not subject to taxation by local governments and taxing jurisdictions. However, in 2006 legislation was approved permitting local school district taxes be levied against 246 acres of SUNY Stony Brook Property. This bill would repeal that law.
Justification: Land owned by the State is not subject to taxation by subordinate levels of government, except in special circumstances. The provisions of paragraph (g) of sub-division 1 of section 536 of the Real Property Tax Law subject 246 acres of the Stony Brook campus to taxation by a local school district as a result of Chapter 627 of the Law of 2006. Such taxation of a SUNY campus by a local school district is unprecedented. Furthermore, this law is problematic in that it: (1) fails to address the full scope of disparities that exist under the State's tax policy on State-owned lands; and (2) gives local governments in Suffolk County tax authority that is superior to most other jurisdictions in the State.
Fiscal Impact: Enactment of this would result in a savings to SUNY Stony Brook of approximately $200,000 annually.
MAY 2008: Incorporates the mission and operational aspects of the Educational Opportunity Centers (EOC) within Article 8 of the Education Law. 2008: A.7956 (Benjamin) Passed; S.5560 (Volker) Higher Education
MAY 2008: Authorizes the lease of portions of the SUNYIT campus to Upstate Cerebral Palsy for the construction of two group homes. 2008: S.7902 (Griffo) Higher Education
FIT Board Expansion
MAY 2008: Increases the Fashion Institute of Technology Board of Trustees from 10 to 16 over a period of three years. 2008: A.10713 (Gottfried) Higher Education; S.7821 (LaValle) Higher Education