Russell says SUNY raises "revolting"
Tuesday, September 21, 2010 - 9:10 am

Assemblywoman Addie J. Russell says the double-digit salary raises and benefits given to SUNY managers in Albany are “revolting.”

“In the face of SUNY employee layoffs and reduction in student aid, the recent double-digit raises and lavish executive suite makeovers are outrageous,” said the 118th District legislator.

According to an Albany Times Union report, SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher is financing a multimillion-dollar renovation plan for the executive offices at the SUNY headquarters in Albany. In addition, her three highest-ranking deputies recently received pay raises of $30,000 each. On top of their pay, now ranging from $250,000 to $315,000, these officials currently receive housing allowances and have their monthly transportation paid for by SUNY.

“As SUNY chancellor, Nancy Zimpher’s top priority should be ensuring that our students receive the affordable, high quality education they deserve, not handing out raises and approving multimillion-dollar office renovations and furnishings.

“What makes these revelations even more revolting is that this excessive spending is happening at the same time that North Country families are trying to figure out how to put food on the table, keep up with the mortgage, and send their kids to college,” said Russell.

The assemblywoman noted that Chancellor Zimpher launched an aggressive advocacy effort to compel state legislators to enact SUNY-Flex, a measure that would allow SUNY colleges and universities to set tuition rates independently, eliminating the legislative oversight and approval built into the process.

“Chancellor Zimpher has demonstrated exactly why it is so important for legislators to maintain their role in setting SUNY tuition rates,” said Russell. “If the decisions she has made already, while students are struggling to pay for their SUNY education and campuses are losing faculty and staff, are any indication of her plans for SUNY, I will fight them tooth and nail.”

Russell noted that the state Senate will convene hearings on the SUNY spending and pay raises very soon and that she will be submitting testimony.

Russell, a Democrat, is seeking re-election. Her Republican opponent is County Legislator David Forsythe.