Tuesday, March 14, 2006
Legislative & Budget Update - The budget negotiations are fully underway as the joint Senate/Assembly General Conference Committee met this afternoon to formally establish budget conference committees and set monetary "table targets" for each conference committee to work from in determining the final Legislative budget recommendation. The over-all targets, the dollars each conference committee has to spend on items above the Executive Budget, are as follows:
The first meeting of the Higher Education Conference Committee is scheduled for Wednesday, March 15th at 9:30am. If past practices are continued, by the Senate and Assembly will outline their individual budget priorities, determine what can be agreed to at that time, and defer to staff the task of preparing an alternative proposal. This would then be discussed at their next meeting, most likely on Thursday and beyond.
Chancellor Ryan, Jim Campbell and Michael Trunzo spent the entire day meeting with Legislative Leaders, members of the Higher Education Committee, members of the Conference Committee, other rank and file members and the fiscal committee staffs of both houses to advocate for SUNY's budget priorities. The Chancellor and my staff will continue this advocacy tomorrow and until the budget is adopted. We urge you to continue your advocacy efforts with your local legislators as these members can help influence the process as it unfolds during the next seventeen days.
It is imperative that SUNY emphasize the allocation of the entire $117 million for tuition offset and mandatory and base-level costs, $25.5 million for enrollment growth and full-time faculty and $7.6 million for high need programs for both state operated ($4 million) and community colleges ($3.6 million). For community colleges, while both the Assembly and Senate "one-house" proposals call for a $75 base aid increase over the Governor's $100 increase, bringing the total base-aid increase to $175 per AAFTE, we need to continue to reinforce our support for these recommended increases. It is generally accepted that TAP restorations will be made somewhere between $99 million (Senate buyback with reforms) and $119 million (Assembly full buyback without reforms) depending upon negotiations. The balance of the $265 million will be left to fund additions to SUNY, CUNY, private colleges and the arts.
Both houses have also adopted capital projects within their one-house budgets. In addition to the capital projects proposed by the Governor in his Executive Budget and 30-Day amendments, the Senate added $246.43 million for SUNY state operated campuses and $13.38 for community colleges. The Assembly added $397.35 million for SUNY state operated campuses and $29.63 million for community colleges.
The "table target" of $265 million will make things tight for the Legislature to afford all the additions that both houses have advanced. We continue to push our legislators, especially those on the Higher Education Conference Committee to fund the overall SUNY 2006-07 budget priorities, and urge you to do the same.
The members of the Higher Education Conference Committee are:
If you have any comments, questions or concerns, contact Michael Trunzo.