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State budget drops UB 2020, remains on schedule

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If UB 2020, aka the SUNY Empowerment Act, is to become law, it will have to do so outside the budget process.

Legislation that would give SUNY schools more power over their destinies (in setting tuition, more leeway in entering private/public partnerships, etc.) has been dropped from the state budget.

But fret not, legislative leaders say, the bill (UB 2020) remains alive for consideration during the rest of the session.

This is unwelcome news to the University at Buffalo (the legislation gets its initials from the school). The bill is seen as one of the Buffalo Niagara region’s best hopes for economic progress and empowerment. Leaders envision research from UB translating into new technologies, businesses and population. But those arguments have failed to convince Albany before.

UB 2020 passed the Senate earlier this session with one lone “no” vote.

Some western New York legislators are hinting they might not vote for any budget failing to contain UB 2020’s language.

State budget to meet March 31 deadline?

Legislative leaders are touting the progress they’ve made on a state budget outline. The Albany Times-Union reports that some in the capitol say the spending plan could be released before the weekend. Yes, this weekend.

The budget is due April 1; no spending plan has been passed early in its entirety since 1983 -- the beginning of the first term of Gov. Mario Cuomo, the governor's father.

Last year, the state budget was more than four months late.

Once an agreement happens, legislators will let the language sit for three days. Only then will a vote take place.

Not all details have been worked out, though. It’s unclear how much of the Governor’s budget proposal will survive the legislative horse trading.

The Senate and Cuomo differ over whether to redirect $130 million of appropriated capital money to regional economic development councils (RECs) the governor hopes to set up.

The RECs were a cornerstone of the Governor’s economic development initiatives.  

Also still unresolved: restoration of some proposed cuts to education, whether or not to end the “millionaire’s tax,” and what Medicaid will look like. 

WBFO/Western New York reporter for the Innovation Trail.
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