September 2, 2004

Pataki's Veto Affects University Funding

Print More

Cornell University stands to lose $20 million in state funds for construction and at least another $1.1 million in project funding under vetoes issued by Gov. George Pataki. That may mean that renovations to Martha Van Rensselaer Hall will be stalled while $9 million is held up by a veto of a larger bill containing $460 million in appropriations for the State University of New York construction fund.

In the governor’s vetoes this year, he did find one good thing to say about Cornell, or rather, a Cornell University study by former Sun columnist Joe Sabia ’97 and Professor Richard Burkhauser, policy analysis and management, “Why Raising the Minimum Wage is a Poor Way to Help New York’s Working Poor.” The governor cited their study as a main reason to veto a bipartisan bill to increase New York’s minimum wage from $5.15 to $7.15 by January 2007. “We were very, very proud of Governor Pataki for doing this,” Sabia said.

The policy debate was centered upon how to help the poor by increasing the minimum wage, but little research had been done on the specifics of the New York case.

“Our work showed that the vast majority of benefits from a minimum wage hike would go to non-poor families. There are two simple reasons for this. First, most minimum wage workers — 60.6 percent — live in families with incomes over two times the poverty line. Second, the vast majority of workers from poor families — 60.1 percent — earn more than $7.15 per hour,” Sabia said.

A better way to help the poor, he said, would be to make more of them aware of the Earned Income Tax Credit.

“I hope this spurs on other researchers as well,” he said.

Included among the specific Cornell programs that the governor cut are the Cornell Geneva Experiment Station ($270,000 cut), the Cornell Avian Disease program ($16,000 cut) and the Cornell Agriculture in the Classroom program ($63,000 cut).

“None of these programs are optional,” said Thomas Bruce, vice president for communications and media relations.

“We are obviously incredibly concerned about the veto,” he said.

While a budget compromise or a legislative override on either the budget or the minimum wage veto is likely to happen soon — most state Republicans are in New York City this week for the Republican National Convention — Albany watchers say that no one really knows if anything will happen this year. If nothing happens, the new fiscal year is only five months away.

“What goes on in Albany is by and large a disgrace,” said Michael Taylor ’05 a member of the Ithaca Common Council, which was affected by $100,000 in cuts to the City of Ithaca.

Archived article by Peter Norlander
Sun Senior Editor