Friday, July 7, 2017

SUNY SA President Announces MOE Activism Initiative

Statement on "State Maintenance of Effort" for Public Colleges

In 2011, the State of New York approved the NY-SUNY 2020 which, at its core, contained the “Rational Tuition” policy allowing for tuition increases of up to $300 per student, per year. It was essentially agreed that tuition hikes would be used to enhance college life, and never to simply fill budget gaps. NY-SUNY 2020 also included a commitment to “Maintenance of Effort,” an assurance from The State of New York that they would enhance financial contributions and provide sustainable funding separate from tuition. 

This assurance turned out to be a weak one. In 2016, after overwhelming bipartisan support in both houses of the state legislature, Governor Andrew Cuomo vetoed Maintenance of Effort. As a direct result of this veto, tuition at The State University of New York and The City University of New York has increased by 30% between 2011 and 2016 while the state’s contributions remained largely flat, translating to deep cuts in inflation adjusted dollars. Concurrently, the systems received absolutely no funding to cover naturally rising costs such as salary increases, utility expenditures, and costs associated with facility usage. Rather than demanding the state pay its fair share, the difference was instead made up by increasing the fiscal burden on students already under immense fiscal distress.

While the NY-SUNY 2020 was not renewed, the state budget allows tuition increases of $200 per student (offset somewhat by the Excelsior Scholarship) and yet again does practically nothing to ensure that the state pay its fair share despite a notable increase in state revenues. The State University and the City University are again left with unsustainable budget gaps to fill with tuition increases. Students are not bottomless ATM's.

A new Maintenance of Effort provision, again passed by the legislature with overwhelming bipartisan support, begins to fill the gap. Given the steady increase in tuition, and an increase in state revenues since 2011, it is well past time the state pay its fair share.

The State University of New York and The City University of New York are systems that were founded with the mission of providing a quality and accessible education for everyone. That includes people living in poverty, immigrants, those with disabilities, working class people, the young, and the old, and other members of historically marginalized communities. It is time for the state to fulfill its obligation and support our public higher education systems, and the future of the students they enroll. I am calling upon Governor Cuomo to assume responsibility and leadership and sign this provision immediately. I am proud to announce that SUNYSA will once again be leading the way with a statewide petition initiative to draw attention and action to this issue and encourage every New Yorker and public interest group to sign on.

The petition can be viewed here.

Source: SUNY SA

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