Questions and Answers
Lease and Public/Private Partnership Provisions
Why is this important to the way SUNY does business?
Under The Public Higher Education and Empowerment Act, SUNY will have the ability to create stronger and better partnerships with private business, build and diversify revenue streams, be more effective in cost-containment. Most importantly, by eliminating burdensome overregulation, SUNY can focus on key mission of “To Learn, To Search, To Serve”.
Will this change the way SUNY does projects?
Burdensome over-regulation prohibits SUNY from cost-effectiveness. On the joint-venture side, SUNY can now partner with private businesses on projects. Specific examples might include:
- Parking structures
- Commercial ventures
- Residence halls
- Conferencing or restaurant facilities
- The UB/Kaleida joint facility
Won't any private company now be able to develop and run businesses on State lands?
A. The Board of Trustees guidelines for land leases require that such use of state land must not be in conflict with the mission of the campus. In addition, the land leases are subject to the subject to approval by a newly chartered State University Asset Maximization Review Board made up of representatives appointed by the legislature and governor.
Can't SUNY enter into public/private partnerships now through the Research Foundation and affiliated entities?
A. Yes, but this will simplify the process and make it more direct. In all these ventures, SUNY will require that such agreements that use state property will include provisions for union worker protections (any current work done by a union worker will remain union work), PLA (Project Labor Agreements), prevailing wage and MWBE. This spans maximizing the use of its campuses within the scope of their missions to having the ability to enter into entrepreneurial partnerships, both with approval of a state oversight board.
Why are project labor agreement provisions limited to projects exceeding $20 million and 25 percent State funding?
A. This was negotiated with the Building Trades union representing the University at Buffalo with the University during UB2020 discussions as a threshold they felt represented a fair dollar amount and funding mix.
Why should SUNY be able to sell personal property and retain the proceeds? Isn't this State property?
A. SUNY, like other state entities, has the authority to surplus state lands and personal property through the state Office of General Services. For the past several years, enacted appropriations have allowed SUNY to receive proceeds of the sale of its surplus real property. The bill codifies the appropriation language with respect to real property and expands and codifies the concept with respect to personal property. The benefit is that all sale proceeds may be used to support SUNY, rather than other State purposes.
Won’t SUNY be less accountable in spending State money?
A. SUNY remains under the authority of a gubernatorial appointed and Senate-confirmed Board. In addition, The Public Higher Education Empowerment and Innovation Act provides greater transparency and accountability for SUNY by requiring SUNY to submit semi-annual accountability reports to justify expenditures and describe revenue sources.
Doesn’t this undermine organized labor?
A. This legislation includes provisions requiring prevailing wage, union worker rights and project labor agreements. This bill also specifically protects the principles of collective bargaining and most importantly creates 10,000 new unionized jobs (2200 faculty and 7800 staff).