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As an undergraduate professor of human services, I am disheartened by Gov. Pataki's proposed budget.

First, I am concerned that such severe cuts in tuition assistance will make the option of a private education cost-prohibitive for many low-income students and for those in need of the individualized attention provided in a small college environment.

While public education may become an alternative for some, the anticipated tuition increase at SUNY will prevent many from achieving the dream of attaining a college degree.

Living a dream of a different sort are individuals successfully overcoming obstacles relevant to their health and well-being. Of particular concern are those recovering from chemical dependency. The governor's plan to eliminate six of 13 alcoholism treatment centers statewide will reduce the number of people achieving the goal.

Moreover, the governor's plan to move the Research Institute on Addictions into the New York City area would prove to be a tragic example of downstate again gaining at Western New York's expense.

It is incomprehensible that an organization that brings nearly $7 million of federal funding to the area, at the relatively modest cost of $3.1 million, may be forced out of Buffalo. The consequences would be devastating: hundreds of jobs would be lost, and a large source of revenue removed.

Even more tragic would be the negative impact upon the health and well-being of WNY residents who have seen substance-related crime and violence continue to escalate.

If the legislators don't work now to retain essential human services and educational opportunities, the state's future certainly appears bleak.

Chair, Human Services
Hilbert College

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