Higher Education
February 04, 2020

Media Release: To ‘fund our future,’ the state must fully fund higher education

Source:  NYSUT Media Relations
Committee of 100

ALBANY, N.Y. Feb. 4, 2020 — New York State United Teachers President Andy Pallotta — joined by Professional Staff Congress President Barbara Bowen and United University Professions President Fred Kowal — will testify today at the joint legislative budget hearing on higher education that proper funding of SUNY and CUNY colleges is essential to ensuring New Yorkers have a pathway to the middle class.

In his testimony, Pallotta is calling on the state leaders to address the myriad issues public colleges and universities are facing due to years of austerity budgets. In order to pay for increased state funding for essential services like public higher education, NYSUT is supportive of new taxes on billionaires and ultramillionaires.

“Educational inequality has become the most pressing issue of our time, and the only way to reverse this alarming trend is by fully funding public education, from pre-K through college,” Pallotta said. “Whether it’s at four-year public universities, community colleges or SUNY hospitals, the message from students, faculty and staff is clear: Fund our future.”

Pallotta’s full testimony can be found here.

Throughout the day on Tuesday, union activists also will be fanning out across the Capitol to meet with lawmakers about the numerous issues that are squeezing public colleges and SUNY hospitals and hurting the students who deserve a high-quality public higher education.

At four-year colleges, annual tuition increases have not helped stave off tough cuts to programs and faculty, which campuses may again be forced to consider. Instead, reliance on tuition instead of increased state funding has just saddled students with higher costs and fewer opportunities to take the classes they need.

At community colleges, the state still is not meeting its statutory obligation to pay 40 percent of the operating costs for these campuses, leading to increased costs for students. Yet again, the executive budget also proposes flat funding per full-time equivalent student, which likely will force campuses to either raise tuition or eliminate programs and student services.

Across the SUNY and CUNY systems, the TAP Gap — the difference between the tuition assistances students receive and the actual cost of tuition that must be borne by colleges — will grow to at least $170 million in 2020–21, further exacerbating the financial crunch if it is not addressed by the state.

In addition, NYSUT again is advocating for the restoration of the state subsidy to SUNY hospitals.

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.