ALBANY, N.Y. Feb. 8, 2016 — New York State United Teachers today reminded state lawmakers that a "college degree is no longer just an option but rather a prerequisite in many industries." As such, the state's public university systems require an investment greater than that proposed in the executive budget for the 2016-17 fiscal year.
NYSUT represents nearly 80,000 academic and professional faculty at the city and state university systems and at nearly all of the state's community colleges.
"Support for public higher education is support for New York's future," said NYSUT President Karen E. Magee. "The state should provide the investment necessary to assure the quality, accessible and affordable college education students today need to succeed."
Testifying before a joint legislative hearing on the 2016-17 higher education budget, NYSUT Executive Vice President Andrew Pallotta said, "Students are funding most of the increases in SUNY's and CUNY's budgets through annual tuition hikes."
Pallotta continued: "Annual tuition increases were supposed to be invested in student academic programs, services and faculty. However, much of that funding is (now) going to pay for mandatory costs that aren't covered by the current statutory definition of the state's maintenance of effort."
As he did at a press conference earlier in the day with other union leaders and legislators, Pallotta called on the Legislature to amend the maintenance of effort definition to include mandatory costs such as energy and other basic operations.
The Legislature passed a NYSUT-backed MOE bill last year; it was vetoed with a message that the issue should be negotiated as part of the budget process.
Pallotta also stressed the need for lawmakers to:
- increase base aid for community colleges by $250 per full-time equivalent student;
- reject pay-for-performance programs;
- create an endowment fund to hire much-needed full-time faculty and staff;
- fully fund SUNY's teaching and research hospitals;
- address teacher preparation, diversity and recruitment programs;
- restore funding cuts to student opportunity programs; and
- enact the DREAM Act.
Frederick Kowal, president of United University Professions (SUNY), and Barbara Bowen, president of the Professional Staff Congress (CUNY), joined Pallotta at the hearing.
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.