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Education leaders criticize proposed state budget

"With the proposed prison closures and the recent shuttering of Pfizer, allowing an institution like North Country to work closely with private industry is going to be important, moving forward," she said.

But Smith said allowing SUNY to set tuition on a school-by-school basis isn't all it's cracked up to be. He thinks it will force low-income students away from their schools of choice.

"The feedback that I got was that there wasn't a lot of support for the Governor's plan," Smith said. "I think that there's going to be some difficulty in getting this through. And for SUNY's sake, I hope that's the case."

Assemblywoman Janet Duprey agreed that reaction to Paterson's SUNY tuition proposal has been mixed, but she thinks if the legislation is detailed correctly, it could work.

"Many of the administrators are enthused about it," she said. "There are some courses that are more expensive to operate and they could flex what they do and how many courses are offered and be able to increase their revenue accordingly so that those who are taking the less expensive courses are paying less."

Duprey acknowledged the concern that Paterson's proposal will shut out some students from some schools; but she said nothing is set in stone yet.

"We have to start thinking outside of the box," Duprey said. "I think this is going to be a good discussion - If it hurts out colleges, we don't want to do it; but funding is being cut so we're all being forced to look at alternative ways to fund what we do."

Duprey will sit down with educators and lawmakers next week to discuss the details of Paterson's cuts and the initiatives he's offered to offset them.

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