Budget cuts cost Geneseo, SUNY

After a bitter struggle to secure adequate funding for the 2008-2009 fiscal year, Geneseo has received "new, but not improved" financial support from the state, the college budget office has said.

A budget summary released April 15 by President Christopher Dahl and the budget office reported that in total, Geneseo lost approximately $768,600, with $475,000 cut in operating support and $293,600 less for energy funding for fiscal year 2008-2009.

The final $122 billion state budget, passed by the State Legislature on April 9, included a 2.9 percent cut, $38.8 million, in SUNY's system-wide operating support. The comprehensive cut for SUNY is a 5.85 percent decrease in funding from the original projection given by former Gov. Eliot Spitzer.

"A cut at this level is manageable but unpleasant," said Dahl. "We're continuing to seek more resources and we will make sure that essential educational programs are there and running well. Our top priority is to provide the education you need."

As part of the enacted budget, Geneseo received $33.9 million in capital support, ranking the college 11th out of the 13 colleges in the State University Construction Fund.

Currently, the college plans to allocate the funds toward a new college stadium, renovations in Brodie Hall, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning improvements and improvements for the Francis Moench track.

As stated in the budget summary, the creation of a new stadium is the college's highest priority and is allotted $16.3 million of the funds. Figures for capital funding are not final as the college has not yet received support from the Empire State Development Corporation, a New York State agency that provides assistance to businesses and other projects to promote prosperity and investment.

According to the budget summary, Geneseo hopes to receive $19 million from the construction fund to renovate the Doty Building. It is not clear at this time if such funds will be secured.

According to James Milroy, assistant vice president for budget, prudent financial management has enabled Geneseo, like many other campuses, to build reserve funds.

"These funds will enable us to mitigate the impact of some of these cuts at least for a couple of fiscal years," said Milroy. "It's through good fiscal management that will enable us to weather this downturn."

As a whole, SUNY and CUNY received $6 billion for capital projects. In addition, the state, which has increased spending by almost five percent despite a weakening economy, also approved the creation of an endowment for SUNY and CUNY to act as a permanent source of funding. The source of the funding for the endowment has yet to be determined.

Other items listed in the budget include $1.75 billion for investment in elementary and secondary education as well as a $1.6 billion economic development capital plan. This capital plan includes $700 million for the Upstate Revitalization Fund to stimulate employment and growth in this region of the state.