A change in New York State’s legislative budget process may result in an increase in state allocations to Cornell, according to the Board of Trustees Committee on University Relations.
The committee held a meeting Wednesday to discuss updates from the state legislatures regarding budgetary and financial matters, health care coverage for medicaid eligible students and the College of Business.
Charles Kruzansky, Associate Vice President of Government Relations, said both New York legislative houses want to add to Governor Cuomo’s proposed funding for state schools.
“The assembly proposed nearly tripling that and the senate doubling that, so instead of 9.5 million dollars, our allocations will likely be 19 million dollars,” Kruzansky said. “This is a really good development, after a number of years house and the senate have not added to the capital.”
However, the legislators are pushing back on other components of SUNY 2020 legislation — a 2011 initiative intended to strengthen academic programs in New York public universities and colleges — according to Zoe Nelson, associate director for state government relations.
“We can see that the legislators are starting to tinker and question things that have been put in place for years,” Nelson said.
Kruzansky attributed to the increase in budget for higher education to New York’s healthier economic performance.
“There is not a budget crisis going on in the state right now, so there’s a little bit of freedom and the legislation is trying to take advantage of that,” he said.
University representatives have also been working with the State Department of Health to provide students eligible for medicaid with Cornell health insurance, according to Nelson.
“The Cornell student health plan is very robust and it’s excellent for students living and studying in Ithaca,” Nelson said. “We’d actually be saving state’s money, since the state would be paying a smaller amount for the students’ insurance.”
Nelson added that the University still needs more support from the legislators to cover the health insurance plan with student financial aid, but talks with legislators in DC have been successful.
“We needed to pull in some influential folks and urge them to take a look at the program again and we’ve successfully secured an attention for a pilot,” Nelson said.
Committee members also raised concerns about responses from the legislature to the College of Business.
The state is particularly interested in possible impacts the Business College may have on the land-grant Dyson School of Business, according to Kathryn Boor, Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
Kruzansky added that the legislators in Albany have expressed interest in how the College of Business will develop in the future.
“They are really interested in what we are doing right now and how it works and how it will work,” Kruzansky said.