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Governor Seeks Legislature's Support of SUNY 'Empowerment' Bill

May 12, 2010

Gannett News Service

ALBANY -- Gov. David Paterson's proposal to allow the State University of New York to set tuition without legislative approval has support from SUNY students, administration and staff, but backing from the Assembly and Senate is less certain.

Paterson held a news conference/rally Tuesday for the Higher Education Empowerment and Innovation Act, during which he called on lawmakers to enact his legislation. SUNY and the City University of New York should have the authority to act more independently, not as "adjunct agencies of New York state's government," he said.

Under the governor's proposal, tuition would be removed from the annual state budget process. SUNY and CUNY could increase tuition each year by up to 2.5 times the five-year average of the Higher Education Price Index. Trustees could charge different tuition rates for programs and campuses within their systems.

The governor said SUNY and CUNY are overburdened by state regulations, and his legislation would eliminate what are considered unnecessary regulations on contracting, procurement, land use and other areas. The state would maintain appropriate oversight.

"SUNY and CUNY are in many ways obfuscated and unable to provide the services that they can, and what this whole Empowerment and Innovation Act is about is liberating them, giving them the opportunity to provide the resources to their students so that we can become a part of global industries and a new global economy," Paterson said Tuesday.

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