Updated: Tuesday, 29 Jun 2010, 6:43 PM EDT
Published : Tuesday, 29 Jun 2010, 5:29 PM EDT
BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - Lawmakers denied UB and other schools the freedom they need to become larger engines of economic growth.
The UB 2020 blueprint is part of the measure that would empower all of the SUNY college system to run themselves with little help from state officials, and was inserted into a spending bill. But when that measure came up for a vote, the SUNY portion had been removed, and might have killed its chances of passage.
Sam Capitano of the Construction Trades Council said, "We had the strongest chance at that moment to have that included in the budget, and the rationale behind it, I could not understand."
Capitano is an officer with the Buffalo Construction Trades Council, which made a special trip to Albany to get the UB 2020 measure passed. Labor leaders are obviously disappointed.
"This to us, I would say, is comparable to the steel industry to Buffalo, back in its peak. That big," said Capitano.
UB President John Simpson, who has led the charge in Albany to make UB 2020 a reality, refused all media requests, but does believe the measure still might have some life, and issued a statement saying, in part, "Passage of this bill is absolutely critical to the future of our university, our community, and our students. The time for Albany to act is now; this community cannot afford to wait any longer."
Niagara County State Senator George Maziarz told News 4 that the budget process gave WNY's Democrats a unique chance to get 2020 passed.
Sen. Maziarz said, "The budget bills passed 32 to 30, and you know, I think with that, the chances for UB 2020 from happening are, I think it's over."
But there is talk of salvaging portions of the empowerment bill through a limited pilot program.
Capitano explained, "I believe if there is a pilot program, it should be given to Buffalo and Long Island."
There is still a key budget bill that comes up for a vote this week, and lawmakers say if UB 2020 has any chance of passage, the western New York delegation will have to make its stand on that one, which could mean bucking their leadership.