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CONTACT: Mike Lisi (518) 640-6600
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April 10, 2017

UUP: New budget is a solid start

UUP President Frederick E. Kowal, Ph.D., today called the new state budget a “good first step” for public higher education, and lauded lawmakers for approving Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s tuition scholarship plan for SUNY and a permanent maintenance of effort for the state university.

“The governor and the Legislature has made SUNY and public higher education a priority in the 2017-18 state budget, and this is a very good thing for our students, faculty and the future of the nation’s greatest public higher education system,” Kowal said. “We look forward to working with the governor to implement his Excelsior Scholarship program, which we believe will go far in making a SUNY degree more accessible to thousands of New Yorkers.”

Kowal thanked legislators for reinstating maintenance of effort provisions that will annually provide SUNY campuses with funding—at least as much as the year prior.

“Campuses are still reeling from drastic state aid cuts to SUNY during the Great Recession, which is why the passage of the MOE is welcome and necessary,” said Kowal. “It will help campuses plan for the future.”

Kowal also welcomed the restoration of funding to SUNY’s successful opportunity programs.

UUP, along with students enrolled in SUNY’s Educational Opportunity Program and Educational Opportunity Centers, pushes strongly each year for these life-changing programs. The Legislature matched last year’s record-breaking commitment to the EOP and the EOCs in the budget.

“We are pleased that students will benefit directly in that any tuition increases must be used to hire more full-time classroom faculty and staff,” Kowal explained. “Also, the (SUNY) chancellor is required to report to the Legislature and governor how the initiative is faring. We welcome this transparency.”

UUP will continue to advocate for SUNY’s three public teaching hospitals in Brooklyn, Stony Brook and Syracuse; the state’s new spending plan does not fully restore the state hospital subsidy, which is crucial for the state-owned hospitals to continue providing vital health care services and to subsidize and support their state-run medical colleges.

And the budget does little to stop the state Department of Health from restraining and delaying state Disproportionate Share Program (DSH) entitlements to the hospitals.

“Given the realities and uncertainties at the federal level, it is imperative that the hospitals receive DSH payments due them in a timely manner,” said Kowal. “SUNY’s hospitals treat hundreds of thousands of patients each year—many of them uninsured or on Medicaid and Medicare—regardless of their ability to pay.”

UUP is the nation's largest higher education union, with more than 37,000 academic and professional faculty and retirees. UUP members work at 29 New York state-operated campuses, including SUNY’s public teaching hospitals and health science centers in Brooklyn, Long Island and Syracuse. It is an affiliate of NYSUT, the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association, and the AFL-CIO.


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