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NYSNYS NEWS: Budget2015 Cuomo vetoes spare vital SUNY programs.
NYSNYS NEWS: Budget2015 Cuomo vetoes spare vital SUNY programs.

By Kyle Hughes

ALBANY, N.Y. (April 14) The 184 budget vetoes announced this week by Gov. Andrew Cuomo will not affect money already set aside for programs at SUNY and community colleges, his budget spokesman said Tuesday.

The vetoes only apply to "the changes (legislators) tried to sneak in," Budget Division spokesman Morris Peters said of the spending items Cuomo rejected. "Those are essentially unconstitutional."

They included changes to planned spending at SUNY university centers. Those vetoed items included taking $22 million planned for a biomedical facility at Stony Brook and using it instead to renovate a sports stadium there already named after Sen. Kenneth Lavalle (R-Suffolk County).

Legislators also tried to divert $12.4 million from a SUNY Binghamton satellite operation at the Syracuse Health Science Center and spend it instead on renovating the "Binghamton Castle" also known as the abandoned former state Inebriate Asylum, a sprawling 1858 structure built to treat alcoholics.

"We're not rejecting the full re-appropriations," Peters said. "We are just rejecting the illegal substitutions in the original appropriations."

In the case of the Binghamton facility, Assembly member Donna Lupardo (D-Endwell) said Cuomo promised the project will still go forward. "I have been assured by the Governor's Office that the funding is still there for the Castle," she posted on Twitter Monday night after the vetoes were released.

Cuomo left untouched other programs such as $5.9 million for classroom renovations and $25 million for "campus revitalization" at SUNY Albany. There is also $35 million for the biotechnology and cancer research center on the SUNY Albany East Campus in Rensselaer County, a facility that once housed the Sterling Winthrop pharmaceutical laboratories.

The budget calls for $75 million for construction of the "Nanotechnology Research Facility and Equipment for the International Venture for Nanotechnology (INVENT)" at SUNY Polytechnic, the new name for the SUNY CNSE nanocollege spun off from SUNY Albany.

Also approved was $5 million for construction for Empire State College, based in Saratoga Springs, and $27.5 million for an advanced technology center and $20 million for a field house at SUNY Utica-Rome.

Community college projects in line for cash include $556,000 for a regional center for SUNY Adirondack, $2.8 million for a facilities master plan and classroom improvements at SUNY Ulster.

The vetoes included what Cuomo called "duplicative" spending of $235,000 for the Just for Kids program and $740,000 for an autism center at SUNY Albany.

The vetoes announced late Monday were the final portion of the $150 billion state budget for 2015-16 that passed on April 1, a few hours past the deadline for the start of a new fiscal year.

Appropriation bills automatically become law when they receive final passage, but the governor has 10 days to act on any changes legislators made to the spending plan as well as the so-called Article VII bills that enact necessary changes to state law required by the new spending plan.