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Letter: Review state budget squeeze of SUNY

Farmingdale State College is a four-year SUNY school

Farmingdale State College is a four-year SUNY school located on Route 110 and Conklin Avenue. The school was named one of the best colleges in the North in US News and World Report 2011 rankings. (July 5, 2011) Credit: Newsday/Alexi Knock

In your article "Guv's spending plan up slightly" [News, Jan. 23], I was disappointed that there was no mention of higher education. There are five State University of New York institutions on Long Island -- Stony Brook, Farmingdale, Old Westbury and community colleges in Nassau and Suffolk. These institutions provide affordable access to higher education and are economic engines for the local economy. Surely the readers deserve to know how the governor's proposed budget would affect higher education and the local economy.

The 2013-14 executive budget provides for flat year-to-year overall state operating aid to the three four-year institutions. For the community colleges, the base aid support, known as full-time equivalent support, is also the same as last year. The current FTE aid is $2,272 per student, while in 2008-09, the funding level was $2,675.

Also, while the executive budget provides $3 million for community colleges to create economic development projects, it's not significant enough to have any impact. Thirty community colleges will be competing for the money.

The state continues to underfund community colleges. State education law requires the state to pay up to 40 percent of the operating budget, with students and the county paying the remainder. Currently the state's share for Suffolk County Community College is roughly 25 percent, while the student share, in tuition and fees, is approaching 50 percent.

Finally, Cuomo's budget reduces the state subsidy to the three SUNY hospitals by $28 million, or roughly 32 percent. This will hurt Stony Brook University Hospital.

Kevin Peterman, Selden

Editor's note: The writer is a professor at Suffolk County Community College.