ALBANY, N.Y. Jan. 24, 2017 — While praising the executive budget’s focus on public higher education, New York State United Teachers today said SUNY and CUNY cannot fulfill their missions — including providing greater access to college through the proposed new Excelsior Scholarships program — without a substantial new increase in state investment.
NYSUT President Karen E. Magee said, “A college degree is essential to be successful in today’s job market. SUNY and CUNY, along with our state’s excellent network of community colleges, are the most affordable entry points for students to gain the knowledge and skills they need, but expanding access requires greater state support.”
In testimony to the Senate Finance and Assembly Ways and Means committees, NYSUT called for a multi-year state investment plan to increase funding for SUNY and CUNY four-year campuses and pushed for a $250 FTE increase for community colleges in the face of an executive proposal that holds their instructional core budgets flat.
NYSUT Executive Vice President Andrew Pallotta said a more robust investment in state support would enable SUNY and CUNY campuses to hire more full-time faculty; provide more support to students; and expand course offerings that would allow more students to graduate on time, while reducing their debt.
“These are keys to greater student success – and New York’s success,” Pallotta said. “And, while it’s encouraging that the state is talking about increasing student access to college through free tuition, more funding is needed to preserve and enhance programs and services for current and future students.”
NYSUT also testified in strong support of greater funding for SUNY hospitals, which he said would be more important than ever to communities with the Affordable Care Act under threat.
Pallotta said NYSUT is currently working with coalition partners to develop revenue proposals “to ensure that individuals and corporations are paying their fair share.” He noted the state could generate nearly $5.6 billion from extending and expanding the millionaire’s tax and closing the carried interest loophole at the state level. Changes in how the state collects online sales taxes would bring in some $200 million over the next two years.
New York State United Teachers is a statewide union with more than 600,000 members in education, human services and health care. NYSUT is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association and the AFL-CIO.