Bill Would Improve Quality of Public Higher Education
The State Assembly delivered to Governor Cuomo today legislation that overwhelmingly passed the Assembly and Senate to protect educational quality at New York’s two public university systems, the City University of New York (CUNY) and State University of New York (SUNY). Under Governor Cuomo, per-student funding for CUNY has remained essentially flat. Since 2008, it has been cut 14%.
The “Maintenance of Effort” (M.O.E.) bill would require the state to fund predictable increases to CUNY/SUNY operating costs like utilities, rent and salaries. It would 1) ensure tuition hikes go to improve CUNY/SUNY, rather than to offset underfunding from the state and 2) provide funding to retain and attract quality faculty so CUNY’s half-million degree-seeking and continuing education students continue to get the best education possible.
Barbara Bowen, president of Professional Staff Congress, the union of CUNY faculty and staff, urged the governor to sign the bill, which passed with near-unanimous votes in the Legislature and is supported by both university systems, editorial boards and tens of thousands of students:
“Working-class, poor and immigrant New Yorkers, many of them people of color, who turn to CUNY for an opportunity for a better life, are counting on Governor Cuomo to do the right thing,” said Bowen. “The governor should sign the MOE bill so that CUNY can continue to give students a top-quality education provided by the best faculty and staff.”
Gov. Cuomo has said tuition increases “[make] it possible for public university systems to add faculty, reduce class size, expand program offerings, and improve academic performance.” But his budgets have not funded operating cost increases, and CUNY/SUNY have been forced to use tuition hikes ($300 per year) to fill holes he left in their budgets. This year for CUNY, the Governor’s underfunding meant $51 million that won’t be used to improve students’ education.