BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - Lawmakers denied UB and other schools the freedom they need tobecome larger engines of economic growth.
The UB 2020 blueprint is part of the measure that would empowerall of the SUNY college system to run themselves with little helpfrom state officials, and was inserted into a spending bill. Butwhen that measure came up for a vote, the SUNY portion had beenremoved, and might have killed its chances of passage.
Sam Capitano of the Construction Trades Council said, "We hadthe strongest chance at that moment to have that included in thebudget, and the rationale behind it, I could not understand."
Capitano is an officer with the Buffalo Construction TradesCouncil, which made a special trip to Albany to get the UB 2020measure passed. Labor leaders are obviously disappointed.
"This to us, I would say, is comparable to the steel industry toBuffalo, back in its peak. That big," said Capitano.
UB President John Simpson, who has led the charge in Albany tomake UB 2020 a reality, refused all media requests, but doesbelieve the measure still might have some life, and issued astatement saying, in part, "Passage of this bill is absolutelycritical to the future of our university, our community, and ourstudents. The time for Albany to act is now; this community cannotafford to wait any longer."
Niagara County State Senator George Maziarz told News 4 that thebudget process gave WNY's Democrats a unique chance to get 2020passed.
Sen. Maziarz said, "The budget bills passed 32 to 30, and youknow, I think with that, the chances for UB 2020 from happeningare, I think it's over."
But there is talk of salvaging portions of the empowerment billthrough a limited pilot program.
Capitano explained, "I believe if there is a pilot program, itshould be given to Buffalo and Long Island."
There is still a key budget bill that comes up for a vote thisweek, and lawmakers say if UB 2020 has any chance of passage, thewestern New York delegation will have to make its stand on thatone, which could mean bucking their leadership.
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