ALBANY, N.Y. June 8, 2016 — State Sen. Ken LaValle, R-Port Jefferson, and Assembly member Deborah Glick, D-Manhattan, along with students and public higher education advocates, called Wednesday for enactment of a full Maintenance of Effort bill to support a greater state investment in the State University and City University systems.
LaValle and Glick — together with representatives of United University Professions, Professional Staff Congress, New York Public Interest Research Group and New York State United Teachers — gathered at 11 a.m., Wednesday, June 8, outside the Senate chambers, third floor, to call for passage of S-7648-A and A-10021.
With the current Maintenance of Effort legislation expiring June 30, many lawmakers and advocates are worried that SUNY and CUNY campuses face the threat of reduced funding. The recently enacted state budget made changes to SUNY 2020, ending authorized annual tuition increases and eliminating the MOE provision requiring the state to maintain its level of support for mandated costs incurred by SUNY and CUNY.
LaValle said, “Maintenance of Effort is vital to keep the State University of New York and the City University of New York operational. The students in these university systems have invested into their education and it is time for the state of New York to make the same commitment by properly funding these central costs. Funding these costs should not be done on the backs of students. It is the state of New York’s obligation to provide for the continuing maintenance of these necessary costs for our higher education institutions.”
“We are here to continue our call for a real Maintenance of Effort in funding by the state for CUNY and SUNY. Inclusion of a real statutory MOE is needed to ensure that CUNY and SUNY would be provided with the state level of funding needed to carry out their important public missions,” Glick said. “A meaningful MOE would ensure that all mandatory costs for both CUNY and SUNY, such as utilities and contractual obligations, are provided for by the state. Our public higher education systems have served generations of New Yorkers and continue to serve tens of thousands of students all over the state. CUNY and SUNY have served as the mechanism for countless individuals to reach the middle class and achieve the American dream.”
“The time is now for the Legislature to once again approve and for the governor to sign a true Maintenance of Effort to reestablish the state’s commitment to public higher education and ensure that tuition dollars enhance academic quality. Cash-poor campuses are forced to use tuition dollars to pay for mandatory expenses, such as heat and lights. SUNY students deserve better,” said United University Professions President Fred Kowal.
Professional Staff Congress President Barbara Bowen said, “Albany passed a budget this year that froze tuition, increased funding for community colleges and honored the state’s historic commitment to CUNY senior colleges, but left important business unfinished. If CUNY is to continue to provide top-quality college education to a half-million New Yorkers, the final weeks of the legislative session must include enactment of Maintenance of Effort legislation and funding for the contracts of CUNY employees, who have been without a raise for nearly seven years.” Bowen added, “What is at stake is whether the next generation of New Yorkers will have the life-changing opportunity of a public college education. We commend Sen. LaValle and Assembly member Glick for their leadership in providing stable funding for CUNY and SUNY. Stable funding for New York’s public universities is essential in the current knowledge-based economy.”
“The state’s failure to invest in its SUNY and CUNY campuses has meant that funding from tuition increases has been used to pay gas and electric bills — not to invest in the faculty and programs that support students,” said NYSUT President Karen E. Magee. “This is wrong. It’s time for the state to pay its fair share of public higher education funding.”
NYSUT Executive Vice President Andrew Pallotta said, “The looming expiration of the current MOE bill endangers the future financial viability of SUNY and CUNY four-year campuses and forces these institutions to unfairly absorb costs that should be paid by the state. The state must commit to a meaningful Maintenance of Effort so our public higher education institutions have the tools they need to thrive.”
“Lawmakers must react to the looming expiration of the state’s SUNY 2020 law by boosting support for public colleges in New York,” said Alex Bornemisza, a SUNY Buffalo State student and chairperson of the New York Public Interest Research Group’s Board of Directors. “The state’s financial situation has improved dramatically since 2011 and it’s important for New York to invest in its future — by passing the ‘Maintenance of Effort’ legislation introduced by Sen. LaValle and Assemblywoman Glick. NYPIRG applauds their efforts to strengthen higher education.”