At a time when he has vehemently opposed the Republican tax bill that would devastate New York’s working families and attack universities and students, Governor Cuomo has chosen to veto legislation that would have stabilized funding for New York’s public universities. What a missed opportunity! With a signature instead of a veto, the Governor could have shown CUNY and SUNY students that their education is worthy of stable State support. He could have shown the nation that New York is willing to invest in the top-rate public college education that working people need in an economy that is being increasingly rigged for corporations and the ultra-rich.
The College Maintenance of Effort bill has passed the Legislature in two separate years with overwhelming bi-partisan support because lawmakers know that well-funded public higher education is essential to the future New York. The Excelsior Scholarship, Governor Cuomo’s 2016 initiative, covers tuition for qualifying full-time students who are on pace to graduate in four years, but still leaves CUNY and SUNY dangerously underfunded.
The Governor will have another opportunity, in his proposed Executive Budget, to demonstrate his values and his support for public higher education. We call on him to realize his vision for universally accessible college education with an Executive Budget that invests in quality of instruction and on-time graduation at CUNY and SUNY. Even in times of economic pressure—especially in such times—higher education investment must be a priority. It will benefit millions of New Yorkers now and in future generations.
The Professional Staff Congress (NYSUT, AFT #2334) represents almost 30,000 full- and part-time faculty and staff at the City University of New York. PSC members educate hundreds of thousands of mostly low-income New Yorkers, the majority from communities of color.