April 2003

Higher Education

From the NYS Assembly ē Sheldon Silver, Speaker
Ron Canestrari, Chair, Higher Education Committee

Governorís cuts to higher education stifle a proven economic engine

A new report by his own administration makes it clear that the governorís $703 million cut to higher education is a dreadfully wrong choice. The Department of Laborís Division of Research and Statistics concluded in their March edition of "Employment in New York State" that higher education is a major component of the engine that drives New Yorkís economy.

"The economic contribution of private and public colleges and universities often goes unnoticed, but their presence typically yields a pronounced effect on local economies throughout New York State. In 2001, colleges and universities employed almost 240,000, and paid out almost $10 billion in total wages..."

"[S]uch figures cannot account for the substantial secondary economic effects generated by college and university-related spending. These secondary effects are often much larger than the immediate direct effects of college spending and prove crucial to the economic health of the surrounding community."
And, the Department of Labor noted, their figures donít factor in the ripple effect of on-campus student jobs or the money spent by colleges in the community.

This evidence proves how higher education affects our stateís many local economies. Colleges and universities provide jobs, create revenue for local economies, and prepare our youth for an increasingly high-tech job-market. But the governorís cuts to higher education would drain the vitality out of many communities Ė continuing the downward spiral New York has faced under the governorís failed economic policies. The Assembly and Senate realize the importance of higher education, as does his own Department of Labor Ė why doesnít the governor?

Upstate economies depend on higher education

Many Upstate economies have been hit hard by the erosion of their local manufacturing base under Patakiís failed policies of the present. Colleges and universities have been an economic stabilizer in these local economies. Most rural counties have a high proportion of their employment and wages concentrated in higher education. For example, the Department of Labor reports that Tompkins County has nearly 32 percent of employment in its higher education system alone.

As we actively pursue more out-of-state high-tech businesses to come to New York, we need to ensure that our workforce is well-prepared. Our colleges and universities are getting our students ready for these jobs while simultaneously driving our economies.

State colleges and universities already feel the pain of the governorís cuts

Across the state, many institutions of higher education have begun to cut staff because of the governorís lack of support. Rockland Community College has already laid off 55 employees. In Central New York, Cornell University is bracing for up to 300 lay-offs. Just a few miles from the Capitol, University at Albany department heads are cutting some part-time professors for the fall semester. These cuts to faculty will result in more competition for seats in classes Ė forcing many students to attend school longer than planned. But they canít count on any help from the governor who has consistently tried to penalize students who donít graduate within four years. And now he is making it more difficult for them to finish on time.

The Assembly and Senate are trying to avert the damage the governorís proposal inflicts on New Yorkís higher education system and the communities it supports. We urge the governor to see the importance of our colleges and universities and join us in supporting a world class higher education system in New York.

The Assembly Internet Information Service is available to those interested in receiving timely legislative updates by e-mail.
To subscribe to this service, please drop us a line at signup@assembly.state.ny.us, indicating your area of interest. (The Assembly Internet Information Service will not release, sell or give away a subscriberís e-mail address, name or any other information provided without express permission from the subscriber. Each e-mail notice or newsletter will contain simple instructions for removing your name from the mailing list if you decide you no longer wish to subscribe.)

New York State Assembly
[ Welcome Page ] [ Committee Updates ]