Feb. 4, 2015

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Kowal denounces governor’s plans for SUNY in mini media blitz

uupdate 2-4-15

Listen to President Kowal on "Capitol Pressroom"

UUP President Fred Kowal calls Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s “Opportunity Agenda” a “missed opportunity” during a Feb. 4 radio interview.

Kowal spoke out over the governor’s plans for a performance-based funding system for SUNY campuses and knocked Cuomo’s damaging proposals for teacher preparation programs, SUNY’s public hospitals, opportunity programs for low-income students and student debt in interviews with two Albany-based political shows, “Capitol Pressroom” and “Capital Tonight.”

“Capitol Pressroom” is a daily hour-long radio show broadcast on public radio stations statewide. “Capitol Tonight” is a 60-minute cable TV show that airs daily on Time Warner Cable systems north of Westchester County.

“For the governor to propose a budget that he refers to as an opportunity agenda, with a miniscule 1 percent increase in state funding for SUNY, is unconscionable,” Kowal told “Capitol Pressroom” host Susan Arbetter.

In both interviews, Kowal stressed the necessity for a true maintenance of effort, with the state providing 50 percent of the cost to operate SUNY. Students pay about 63 percent of SUNY’s costs, with the state contributing the rest. That’s an issue Kowal said the union will push state lawmakers to address in the final budget.

Kowal described the governor’s all-out attack on teacher preparation programs as “disingenuous.” The governor’s budget proposal ties student test scores to possible program closure.

“This is a new testing menu that was put in place in a very hasty manner, that is flawed, that has all kinds of problems attached to it, basically with the intent to eliminate programs for no good reason,” Kowal said on “Capitol Pressroom.” “You create a new assessment tool supposedly intended to improve quality, but your goal all along has not been to improve quality. It’s to slash programs.”

On “Capital Tonight,” Kowal took issue with Cuomo’s student debt plan, which would forgive two years of loans for graduates—starting in 2015—who live in New York and make $50,000 or less annually. The governor’s plan excludes graduates with existing debt, could drive students to borrow more and may force new graduates into low-paying jobs just to qualify.

“This is a major problem that, again, the governor has not addressed directly,” he said.

He explained UUP’s proposed student debt refinancing plan to “Capital Tonight” host Liz Benjamin; the union’s initiative would allow all eligible graduates to refinance federal and state student loans incurred as of 2008.

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