About the Campaign

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Enact the Public Higher Education Quality Initiative

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The Public Higher Education Quality Initiative calls on New York state to:

  1. Provide increased funding and a real maintenance of effort for SUNY and CUNY four-year campuses that includes mandatory costs (collective bargaining, energy and other inflationary costs).
  2. Provide an increase of $250 per full-time equivalent student to begin to move towards the promise that was made by the state forty years ago to provide 40 percent of operating costs to community colleges.
  3. Reject performance-based funding which would short- change students and has no track-record of success
  4. Create an endowment to restore and rebuild SUNY and CUNY academic departments through the addition of full-time faculty and professional staff, ensuring the quality courses, programs and mentoring students deserve.
  5. Reject the governor's cuts to SUNY hospitals and restore funding back to the 2010-11 level of $128 million. Reject for-profit ownership operation of hospitals, and provide capital funding for comprehensive ambulatory care facilities in Brooklyn.
  6. Reject the 2015-16 Executive Budget assault on teacher preparation programs.
  7. Pass the NY Dream Act and invest strongly in student financial aid and opportunity programs, update and reform the state's Tuition Assistance Program.

The Public Higher Education Quality Initiative is dedicated to ensuring quality, opportunity and access at public colleges and universities across New York state. Our state's system of public higher education - the largest in the nation - is the essential path to economic opportunity and equality for our students. Yet, since 2008, SUNY and CUNY have suffered over $1.5 billion in cuts, driving up tuition, imperiling opportunities for students and threatening quality and access.

CONTENTS:

Increase Funding to Public Higher Education

It's time for the state to pay its fair share in funding public higher education. Unfortunately, students are funding the increases in SUNY's and CUNY's budgets through annual tuition increases. Much of that funding is going to pay for mandatory costs of the universities. The revenue from annual tuition increases that were authorized with the enactment of NY-SUNY 2020 were supposed to be invested in student academic programs, services and faculty.

This year, the state has the resources to make a significant investment in public higher education. To that end, we are requesting that the state provide an aggregate increase of $344.5 million in base funding this year to SUNY, CUNY and their community colleges. This includes a $226.1 million increase for the SUNY system (state-operated campuses and community colleges) and a $118.4 million increase for the CUNY system (senior and community colleges). The majority of this funding is to cover mandatory costs. The state must keep the promise it made to our students that their hard earned tuition dollars would go to enhancing the quality of their education.

SUNY State-Operated Campuses - Provide $131.4 Million for Increased Mandatory Costs

The executive budget fails to provide necessary funding for increased mandatory costs to SUNY's state-operated campuses. These increased costs amount to $131.4 million. Tuition increases are not enough to cover increased mandatory costs and to provide needed additional faculty and staff necessary to provide New York's citizens with the quality higher education they deserve. The state must begin to reverse the trend of disinvestment in SUNY.

CUNY Senior Colleges - Provide $63 Million for Increased Mandatory Costs

The executive budget does not provide funding for increased mandatory needs as requested by CUNY. This shortfall amounts to $63 million, which is needed to fund inflationary costs associated with energy, building rentals, technology and central administration, collective bargaining, fringe benefits and other non-personnel costs. Public funding of CUNY's mandatory needs was part of the promise made to CUNY students.

Without this public funding, virtually all of the additional new tuition revenue (or $300 per student) will be needed to cover this gap, and students will be deprived of enhanced academic and career counseling and additional full-time faculty.

Provide Real Maintenance of Effort

NYSUT and its higher education affiliates are calling on the state to modify the current statutory maintenance of effort provision within NY-SUNY 2020. This issue is too important to wait another year and should be addressed in this year's budget. This provision defines the state's minimum financial obligation for funding SUNY and CUNY. Specifically, we strongly urge the state to honor the commitment to cover fringe benefit costs and amend the current provision by including mandatory costs (collective-bargaining, energy and other inflationary costs) and the SUNY hospitals to be annual funding obligations of the state. None of these items are part of the current inadequate provision.

We cannot expect our public universities to provide a quality education that our students deserve on the same level of state funding year after year. It is wrong to charge students more tuition every year only to have it go towards paying day-to-day operational costs that the state, at a minimum, should be paying.

Reject Performance-Based Funding

The executive budget proposes to withhold 10 percent of all SUNY and CUNY state campus allocations – including community college campus allocations, if campuses do not submit and obtain approval of a performance improvement plan by December 31, 2015. This plan would serve as the basis for future performance funding allocations. Performance-based funding is not a new idea and it will not address SUNY's and CUNY's funding problems. Other states have implemented performance-based measures with little if any success. Fourteen states have already abandoned their programs and numerous studies have found no academic benefit has been provided to students. Shifting to performance funding will wreak havoc with colleges' ability to plan, hire adequate staff, and provide for student's needs - especially when all the colleges are so seriously underfunded.

Increase SUNY and CUNY Community College Base Aid by $250 per Full-Time Equivalent Student (FTE)

The state is not living up to its statutory obligation of providing 40 percent of the operating costs to these institutions. Refer to chart (1A) and (1B); both SUNY and CUNY community college students are paying the lion's share of operating costs of these campuses. In fact, students are now paying 43 percent of these costs at SUNY community colleges while the state is only paying 26 percent. At CUNY, the students are paying 45 percent of these costs while the state is only paying 25 percent. Clearly, the burden of funding for these institutions has been placed on our students. Moreover, state base aid is far below 2008-09 levels while enrollment has increased since that time. This underfunding has occurred over many years and the state should commit to a multi-year plan to address the funding needs of these campuses to ensure that they are able to serve their communities.

NYSUT supports SUNY's and CUNY's budget request to increase state base aid by $250 per FTE student and asks that it be provided in this year's enacted budget. This increased funding should obviate the need for an increase in tuition, which our students cannot afford.


The Excelsior Excellence Fund - Public Higher Education Endowment

NYSUT, and its higher education affiliates, are calling on the state to establish an endowment for the sole purpose of hiring additional full-time faculty and professional staff at SUNY, CUNY and their community colleges. We ask that $250 million, be provided from the $5.4 billion received from court settlement with the banking industry. The ultimate goal of this endowment is for SUNY and CUNY to achieve a 70 percent to 30 percent full- time to part-time faculty ratio, which will enhance the quality of academic programs and services offered to students. As part of this endowment proposal, we want to ensure that current part-time faculty members are given consideration to filling new full-time faculty lines.

We have great faculty at our public higher education institutions. The fact is we have also lost a lot of great faculty to other universities across this country. The state needs to invest resources in full-time faculty to enable SUNY and CUNY to recruit and retain the best and the brightest faculty. Annual tuition increases are not an adequate source of revenue to enhance full- time faculty and professional staff lines. An endowment provides long-term financial stability in providing the annual resources needed to enhance our academic departments. If we are serious about revitalizing regional economies across the state, we need to invest in intellectual capital.

Refer to charts (2A) and (2B) insert; the ratio of full-time faculty to part-time faculty is far from where it should be.


SUNY Hospitals and Health Science Centers

Provide $59 Million to Restore Funding Back to the 2010-11 SFY Level

The executive budget proposes a $19 million cut in state funding for these institutions from the prior fiscal year. We urge the Legislature to provide an increase of $59 million in this year's budget to bring them back to the 2010-11 SFY funding level of $128 million.

SUNY's teaching hospitals open their doors to everyone, regardless of their ability to pay. This includes accepting and caring for hard-to-treat patients; many referred by private hospitals. These hospitals provide the safety-net health care services their communities depend on and provide unique life- saving services often not found in other hospitals.

They also generate more than $250 million in annual revenue for the operating budgets of SUNY's medical schools which produce thousands of physicians and other health care professionals for our state's health care system

Reject Article VII Pilot Program to Restructure Health Care Delivery Systems

The executive budget advances Article VII language to provide for a pilot program to assist in restructuring health care delivery systems by authorizing for-profit capital investment in health care facilities. This legislation allows for the establishment of up to five business corporations, one of which must affiliate with an academic medical institution or teaching hospital. The door to the potential privatization of SUNY's hospitals would swing wide open if this provision is enacted. For-profit ownership and operation of hospitals in other states has not worked. For-profit hospitals are wrong for patients, wrong for health care workers and wrong for New York. We urge you to reject this proposal.

Provide Capital Funding for New Ambulatory Care Centers in Brooklyn

The executive budget provides $700 million in new capital funding to stabilize the health care delivery system in Kings County. It has been widely reported that there are plans to use this $700 million to build a new hospital in Brooklyn. We believe that to use this money for this purpose would very likely have serious negative consequences for SUNY Downstate and other Brooklyn hospitals. The proposal also provides total discretion to the commissioner of health to award this funding without any competitively bid process or without any input from the Legislature or the community.

We believe that establishing up to 14 new ambulatory care centers across Brooklyn would be a much better use of this funding. The residents of Brooklyn do not need another hospital. They need access to primary care that these centers would provide.

We urge the Legislature to provide capital funding which will enable SUNY Downstate to establish at least two new free standing ambulatory care centers.

This proposal would protect SUNY Downstate and its medical school as state-operated public institutions, and provide a new model in comprehensive ambulatory care in Brooklyn.

More details can be found at: www.brooklynhospitalplan.org


Invest Strongly in Student Financial Aid and Opportunity Programs

Pass the NY DREAM Act and Reform the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP)

The Legislature should pass the NY DREAM Act this session. This meritorious issue stands on its own and should not be tied to the education investment incentives Act, which should not be enacted. We also urge the enactment of the reforms called for by the Coalition to Reform the New York State Tuition Assistance Program. This 40-year old program, has afforded so many students the ability to obtain a higher education in this state, but it needs to be updated. Too many students are excluded from or under-served by the current program.

Restore Opportunity Programs and other Initiatives to Ensure Student Access and Success

Restore funding to SUNY and CUNY programs that are proven to increase access, retention and graduation rates. For example: the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) and Educational Opportunity Centers (EOC) at SUNY, SEEK and College Discovery at CUNY, CUNY's Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP), CUNY LEADS and other programs.


Teacher Preparation

The executive budget includes teacher education policy changes that would negatively impact students and teacher preparation programs at SUNY, CUNY and private colleges and universities statewide.

The proposal is grounded in the New York State Education Department's (SED's) deeply flawed and poorly implemented new system of teacher certification exams (this is analogous to the Common Core). The plan would close teacher education programs based on invalid student test results. If enacted, these proposals could lead to a dramatic and irreversible decline in college-based teacher preparation programs, reduce teacher education access and diversity and create an educationally unsound standardization of teacher education curricula. We have strong objections to the following proposals and urge you to oppose them:

  • Institution deregistration and suspension based on invalid test data;
  • New mandated admissions requirements for graduate programs that are not educationally sound;
  • Re-registration for teachers that would increase costs for teachers and SED; and
  • Tenure process changes for new teachers that could eliminate job security and create an unstable teaching workforce.

The executive budget proposal constitutes an overreach into the education profession based on invalid assumptions and unsound data. It threatens existing high-quality teacher education programs in our state and will discourage students from entering the profession by increasing their costs and robbing them of the prospects of a stable teaching career.

We urge the Legislature to reject the executive budget freestanding Article VII Education Reform bill and to demand and to conduct an independent investigation into the substantive problems associated with New York state's new teacher certification requirements and SED's inaccurate test results data.

 

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Learn more at www.nysut.org/qualityhighered.