Assemblyman Michael Cusick
Higher Education
February 2006
Michael J. Cusick, Chair, Subcommittee on the Tuition Assistance Program

Assembly budget invests in higher education,
restores governor’s cuts

The Assembly’s budget plan makes significant investments in New York’s higher education system while rejecting the most harmful parts of the governor’s budget.

“We applaud the Assembly’s rejection of the governor’s scheme to raise the cost of going to college. The Assembly proposal is an excellent next step in the budget process and we urge the Senate and governor to follow suit and negotiate a final budget that holds the line on tuition and financial aid and invests in the state’s colleges and universities.”

—Miriam Kramer, higher education coordinator
for the New York Public Interest Research Group

Unlike the governor’s budget, the Assembly’s budget proposal will help ensure that all students have access to an affordable college education. The Assembly is committed to fighting for a final state budget that strengthens New York’s higher education system.

“Over the last 14 years, CPI is up 43 percent and the Higher Education Price Index is up 62 percent. Yet state aid for SUNY is up less than 4 percent and CUNY, not even 1 percent. In a word: shameful.”

— H. Carl McCall, Public Higher Education Conference Board co-chair

Keeping college affordable

The Assembly restores almost $320 million in state support to local colleges and universities.

Highlights of the plan include:

  • $131 million to offset tuition hikes for State University of New York and City University of New York students

  • $119 million in Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) funding

  • Expanding TAP for part-time students

  • Increasing overall SUNY/CUNY operating aid – allowing SUNY to add 541 more faculty and CUNY to add 400, and

  • Increasing support for vital opportunity programs by 10 percent

The Assembly is also reviewing the capital improvement needs at SUNY/CUNY colleges.

The Assembly provides more than $34 million in aid to local community colleges over two years, which the governor seriously underfunded. In fact, over the next two years, the Assembly would have New York meet its obligation under state law to provide local colleges with aid for 33 percent of their budgets.

“How are the State University and City University systems going to continue to prepare their students to successfully compete with students from around the world if they are starved for funding year after year? The budget the governor proposes for higher education is grossly inadequate and would only drag SUNY and CUNY backwards.”

– Richard C. Iannuzzi,
New York State United Teachers, President

Governor undermines higher education

While the Assembly has a proven record of delivering results and keeping the promise of a college education within the reach of New York’s students, the governor has attempted to cut aid to higher education by more than $3 billion.

During his tenure, the governor has increased tuition by 65 percent, allowed state support for community college funding to drop to the lowest it’s been in 30 years, and attempted to cut TAP nine separate times.

“The (governor’s) proposal is definitely going to hurt community colleges.”

—Sue Mead, director of financial aid at Dutchess Community College

Assembly fights for New York’s colleges and universities

The Assembly will not allow the governor to undermine higher education. Universities and colleges are vital to creating a well-trained workforce, new jobs, bringing in federal research dollars, and most importantly, keeping our young people here in New York. The failure to properly fund higher education in our state could have disastrous effects on our future.

Students have no trouble finding world-class learning institutions in New York, but the more difficult part is often finding the money to pay for their education. The governor – and his allies in Washington – are trying to make it harder for New Yorkers to afford a college education. The U.S. House of Representatives recently voted to slash federal funding for education loans and the governor proposed cutting TAP for some of New York’s most vulnerable students.

We don’t need to create more obstacles and expenses for students looking to get a college degree. In the coming weeks, the Assembly will work in a bipartisan fashion to negotiate a fair, on-time budget that provides our students with the educational opportunities they need to succeed.

“SUNY’s budget request would have allowed the university to grow from a good higher education system to a great one, in part by increasing the number of full-time faculty so SUNY could enroll more eligible students and not turn them away. At best, the governor’s budget leaves SUNY in neutral. At worst, it sends a message that improving the SUNY system is a low priority.”

—William E. Scheuerman,
president of United University Professions


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