ALBANY, N.Y. Feb. 25, 2016 – New York State United Teachers joined students, faculty and staff at a rally today to call for a greater investment in the state’s public higher education institutions and enactment of true maintenance of effort legislation.
NYSUT urged legislators to take advantage of the state’s multi-billion-dollar surplus and use the 2016-17 budget to help SUNY and CUNY four-year campuses and community colleges rebuild from cuts sustained during the recession.
“The Legislature has an opportunity to champion students and of the state’s public higher education systems and we urge them to do so,” said NYSUT President Karen E. Magee. “We look forward to partnering with state leaders on a final state budget that assures the quality, accessible and affordable SUNY, CUNY and community college systems our students deserve.”
“New York’s public higher education institutions are gateways to opportunity for students,” said NYSUT Executive Vice President Andrew Pallotta. “A vibrant, well-funded system of community colleges and SUNY and CUNY four-year campuses will help students climb the ladder to success and contribute to the state's economic vitality for years to come.” “In a year in which the state enjoys a multi-billion-dollar budget surplus, it must reject cost-shifts and use this opportunity to invest significantly more in SUNY, CUNY and our community college systems, he said.”
In addition to spurring lawmakers to fully fund public higher education, Pallotta used the rally to call for enactment of maintenance of effort legislation that includes mandatory costs, such as energy and other basic operations; rejection of cost shifts; and an increase to base aid to community colleges of $250 per full-time student equivalent.
“Community colleges provide affordable, accessible learning and job-training opportunities for students — those who are recent high school graduates and those seeking new skills in a rapidly changing economy. Yet, New York’s network of community colleges is currently receiving less state funding than in 2008-09, “said Suffolk Community College Faculty Association President Kevin Peterman. “The Legislature has been very supportive of community colleges. It is essential that state support continue — and increase substantially — in a year in which New York’s budget surplus is expected top $5 billion.”
NYSUT is also calling on lawmakers to reject pay-for-performance programs; create an endowment to hire much-needed full-time faculty and staff; fully fund SUNY’s teaching and research hospitals; and make other budgetary changes to support teaching and learning.
NYSUT represents 600,000 teachers, school-related professionals, academic and professional faculty in higher education, professionals in education and health care and retirees. NYSUT is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers; National Education Association and the AFL-CIO.