February 2, 2007
In his budget address January 31, Governor Eliot Spitzer delivered his Executive Budget for FY2007-08. Many of you may have watched this address on Wednesday either online or on RNews as Governor Spitzer proposed major increases in funding for education, children's health care, property tax relief, and special aid to distressed cities. It is important to note that this is a proposed budget which provides stability with modest growth for SUNY— for which Chancellor John Ryan has commended the Governor. Following the presentation of the Executive Budget, Chancellor Ryan said, "We look forward to working with the Governor and the Legislature throughout the budget process. With this budget proposal we are off to a good start at our 64 state-operated campuses and community colleges to ensure we provide a high-quality education to our record-breaking 418,000 students, a well-trained work-force to enable business to prosper in New York and a growing research enterprise of international quality, which leads to innovation, job creation and economic growth."
Base salary and inflation increases are funded, no tuition increase is being considered and there is support for some capital facilities requests — including additional funding of $24 million for our #1 capital project — the Special Events Recreation Center. Almost $3.6 million is contained in the proposal for critical maintenance. No details are currently available about campus-specific allocations. This allows us to be optimistic about our prospects as the budget process moves into the Legislative arena, with a final budget being implemented in the next few months. SUNY System Administration is already developing advocacy information that most likely will focus on the unfunded SUNY initiatives and capital projects for the hospitals and the community colleges.
You may have also noticed in the Governor's budget address that he announced a new Commission on Higher Education. Cited among its charges are: 1) short-term and longer-term strategies to enable public universities to go from being good to being great (I believe SUNY Brockport is already great, but we can make our College even greater!); 2) a rational tuition policy as suggested by Chancellor Ryan to promote affordability, stability and predictability; and 3) benchmarks for comparing educational accomplishments, research productivity and academic quality of New York State's public colleges against national peer institutions.
Before providing some of the 2007-08 budget details, here's a quick re-cap of our FY2006-07 current budget position. As a result of prudent fiscal management of our resources this year, we have a cash balance as of December 31, 2006 of $2 million. There are also projections of salary savings and utility savings, but these estimates will change over time. This provides the College with flexibility to continue evaluating expenditures that further our goals and initiatives.
This initial good news on both the State Operating Budget and the Capital Budget allows us to go forward with our current plans for FY2006-07 and to continue to evaluate our future plans to fulfill the College goals and initiatives. We shall, of course, continue to work collaboratively with the Budget and Resource Committee and all Divisions of the College to ensure we are maximizing our resources to benefit students, faculty, staff and the future infrastructure of our campus community.
In the meantime, I ask each and every one of us to actively engage in advocating for the best possible public education through SUNY. Mid-month I will again be taking a delegation from SUNY College at Brockport to Albany to advocate for our campus and System priorities as part of the annual SUNY Days. Be assured that, as always, we'll be taking a strong message to our legislators who have shown their support for SUNY, and SUNY Brockport in particular.
I personally appreciate your support.
John R. Halstead, PhD