NYS Senate Passes U.B. 2020 Legislation

March 2, 2011 Updated Mar 2, 2011 at 6:13 PM EDT

By WKBW Programming

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NYS Senate Passes U.B. 2020 Legislation

March 2, 2011 Updated Mar 2, 2011 at 6:13 PM EDT

( release) The New York State Senate today passed “UB 2020” legislation, sponsored by Senator Mark Grisanti (North Buffalo), that supports the University at Buffalo’s strategic plan to encourage economic growth and create jobs in Western New York. The bill benefits students, families and the economy of the entire region.

“This legislation represents one of the major pieces of the puzzle when you talk about the economic future of Western New York,” Senator Grisanti said. “Bringing resources and jobs back to Western New York is my number one priority,” Senator Grisanti said. “I am hopeful this will be a catalyst to start a dialogue with the Governor and the Assembly so we can reach our goals and get these important reforms enacted.”

“I commend Senator Grisanti for his leadership on such an important job creation issue for all of Western New York,” Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos said. “He made a commitment to get this done and today’s action, the first bill Senator Grisanti passed in the Senate, keeps his commitment.”

“The Senate failed to act on UB 2020 under different leadership the past two years, but Senator Grisanti, working together with the other members of the regional delegation, is moving it forward,” Senator Skelos said. “Now we need the Assembly to pass this bill so it can be signed into law and the UB2020 plan can be used to start the economic growth and job creation that is needed in Western New York.”

The bill (S.3143A) is co-sponsored by Senators George Maziarz (R-C, Newfane), Patrick Gallivan (R-C-I, Elma), Michael Ranzenhofer (R-C-I, Amherst) and Timothy Kennedy (D, Buffalo). The legislation, entitled the “UB 2020 Flexibility and Economic Growth Act,” represents their ongoing commitment to the Western New York community and to improving public higher education.

Senator George Maziarz said, “We are following through on an issue that a bipartisan group of legislators and the vast majority of people we represent back home have identified as a top priority for Western New York. We are united in our belief that the UB 2020 vision is critical for growth of higher education and economic development in our region.”

Senator Michael Ranzenhofer said: "As a graduate of SUNY Buffalo Law School, I understand the positive impact UB has in our region and how critically important UB 2020 is to our community. UB 2020 will modernize and expand the University at Buffalo and, at the same time, create opportunities and provide research and technology for businesses and institutions in our community. The passage of UB 2020 today in the State Senate is the first step to making this a reality. I was proud to co-sponsor and support this legislation. I have always been a believer in the University at Buffalo and after today, the entire New York State Senate is a believer too."

Senator Patrick Gallivan said: “UB is not merely an institution of higher learning; it is part of Western New York’s cultural and economic foundation. For years Western New Yorkers have been sold silver-bullet revitalization plans that have either failed to meet expectations, or been left on the drawing room floor. UB 2020 is a realistic and attainable economic development project. It has the potential to create thousands of jobs, and position our region to attract businesses and compete in a 21st century global economy."

“Even though Senator Grisanti has only been in office three months, he has shown great professional leadership in getting this critical legislation passed,” said Paul Brown, president of the Buffalo Building and Construction Trades Council. “The UB 2020 bill, which places no burden on
taxpayers, will create thousands of the types of jobs that labor needs. I now call on the Assembly to show the same kind of strong leadership and do what’s right for Buffalo-Niagara.”

The bill would give the University at Buffalo the opportunity to create a tuition policy that is fair, responsible and predictable and enable the school to use tuition revenue to pursue the UB 2020 plan for academic excellence while at the same time protecting students’ access to high-quality education, especially for the state’s neediest students.

The bill proposes reforms to state law that will provide UB with the tools needed to move forward with the UB 2020 plan, a project that is expected to have a positive impact on Western New York, particularly downtown Buffalo with the creation of thousands of jobs in the construction and higher education industries.

UB 2020 has earned widespread support throughout the region because of its potential to spur economic development and create jobs over the next several years. The reforms are needed to provide students with access to world-class higher education that provides them the ability to achieve academic excellence.

Specifically, the bill allows the University at Buffalo to establish differential tuition rates starting with the 2011-2012 academic year. The rates would be limited based on averages from other peer institutions and a semester undergraduate limit of $375 and annual graduate limit of 15%. The money raised from tuition increases would be used for financial aid programs at the University at Buffalo to ensure that no family making less than $60,000 a year would feel the effect of the tuition increase; as well as for other University at Buffalo programs.

In addition, the bill provides maximum flexibility to the University at Buffalo for future capital projects on its three campuses by allowing capital project financing to proceed through campus-related nonprofit organizations, which would be allowed to procure financing through the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York.

The bill was sent to the Assembly.

WNY Delegation pushes the legislation through the Senate chamber

Senator Kennedy and Democratic colleagues send letter to bring legislators from both chambers and both parties to the table to devise a strategy for passage through the Assembly

ALBANY, N.Y. – In a display of bipartisan and statewide support for the revitalization of the Western New York economy, the State Senate approved the UB 2020 legislation by a vote of 53 to 1. Senator Timothy M. Kennedy, D-58th District, secured the votes of nearly all of his colleagues in the Democratic Conference, pushing the total number of votes in support of UB 2020 to a level higher than any of the previous Senate votes on the plan. It was after Kennedy gave a passionate plea to his Democratic colleagues for Western New York’s need for UB 2020 that a number of them changed their vote to support the measure.

In the past, the UB 2020 measure has not fared well in the Assembly. The revised version of the plan that passed Wednesday puts some of the Assembly’s concerns to rest – including an annual tuition increase cap of $375 and a measure that will hold tuition for families who make less than $60,000 at 2010-11 measures.

While some revisions have been made, Senator Kennedy is determined to get the Assembly to approve the plan and send it to Governor Cuomo for his signature. For that reason, Senator Kennedy has called on his Democratic colleagues, who supported the UB 2020 legislation, to sign on to a letter sent to Assembly Speaker Silver, calling on legislators from both houses and from both parties to come together to raise any outstanding concerns and devise a comprehensive strategy to pass UB 2020.

“A comprehensive strategy for passage is needed to ensure the UB 2020 plan makes it to the Governor’s desk. The UB 2020 proposal presents a substantial opportunity to turn the Western New York economy around, and my colleagues in the Senate have proven they understand that. It’s often during times of economic and fiscal crisis that we find the united energy and ground-breaking innovation to rebuild our economy stronger than it ever has been,” Senator Kennedy said. “A day after we hear of a report that ranks the Western New York region as the second-most-difficult place to find a job, it is fitting that we pass a piece of legislation that, if approved by the Assembly and signed by the Governor, will spark the ignition of a job creation machine for Western New York. We’ve passed this plan early with statewide, bipartisan support to signal to the Assembly and the Governor that it’s time we delivered UB 2020, a job-creation plan critical to the economic future of Western New York.”

The letter – which was signed by the vast majority of the Democratic Conference – reads, “With broad bipartisan support from legislators of every region of the state, the Senate has passed “UB2020” – critical legislation originally drafted by the Democratic Conference in 2009, which will fundamentally alter the economic development landscape of Western New York and apply a rational tuition policy for the University at Buffalo. It’s now time for Senators and Assembly Members to work together to guide the UB2020 plan through the legislative process and deliver it to Governor Cuomo for his signature, this year.”