The presidents of SUNY Potsdam and SUNY Canton are praising proposed reforms that would give the state university system more financial freedom.
Gov. David A. Paterson on Friday announced the Public Higher Education Empowerment and Innovation Act, which would eliminate some financial constraints for the State University of New York and City University of New York systems, and will be included in his 2010-11 budget proposal.
"Currently, Albany micromanages everything from the chalk campuses purchase to the cost of tuition that students pay," Mr. Paterson said in a statement. "This burdensome over regulation threatens the ability of our public higher education systems to promote economic development and successfully adapt to changing educational and fiscal circumstances."
The governor's proposal would allow SUNY and CUNY to set their own tuition rates, and allow campuses more flexibility to negotiate a variety of contracts.
"This is just almost what I've been hoping they would do for forever," said SUNY Canton President Joseph L. Kennedy. "If we had less bureaucracy, we'd be able to lessen cost and be more responsible with state money."
Mr. Kennedy, who is the second-longest tenured president in the state university system, said the proposal is the most important piece of legislation affecting SUNY that he has seen in his 16 years at the helm of the Canton college.
"I couldn't be more optimistic. The governor's proposals will transform the way SUNY schools will be able to do business," he said.
SUNY Potsdam President John F. Schwaller said the reforms would allow tuition to rise along with inflation. He said he hopes the boost in revenue would allow his institution to reinstate positions that are on the chopping block because of state budget cuts.
"We're really intrigued by the possibilities. This would relieve regulatory restraints that prevent us from being more efficient," Mr. Schwaller said. "This could have tremendous potential."
The governor's proposal would allow SUNY and CUNY to raise tuition rates on their own, as long as increases stay within 2.5 times the increase in the higher-education price index, a measure of inflation for operating costs released every June 30.
"Simply having a predictable flow of revenue will be a pretty big deal," Mr. Kennedy said. "And SUNY would keep all of its tuition. The infamous system where we charge tuition and they take it away would end."
SUNY's tuition rate for state residents is $5,070. CUNY charges $4,600 for in-state tuition.
The governor's proposal would allow SUNY and CUNY to charge different rates for different programs.
Mr. Schwaller said he would be interested to see if SUNY Potsdam could charge a special rate for Crane School of Music programs.
The reforms also would allow colleges to lease property to other institutions, eliminate requirements for preapprovals of contracts by the state comptroller's office and allow post-audits instead of preliminary reviews for dormitory projects.