Feb. 8, 2016

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Labor, legislative leaders call for MOE

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UUP President Fred Kowal joined legislative and union leaders in calling on the governor to approve a Maintenance of Effort to cover yearly mandatory and unexpected expenses for CUNY and SUNY.

At a Feb. 8 press conference in Albany, union leaders from UUP, NYSUT, the Professional Staff Congress/CUNY and District Council 37/AFSCME stood with Assemblywoman Deborah Glick and Sen. Ken LaValle— the state Assembly and Senate Higher Education Committee chairs, respectively—to urge Gov. Andrew Cuomo to approve the MOE.

“This is about access to a high-quality educational opportunity for all,” Kowal said. “This is about creating a future for young people. The time is now for the state to recommit to SUNY and the principle of an accessible, affordable, high-quality public higher education. That investment, plus a genuine MOE, will stop the unfair shift of the cost of public higher education onto students.”

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The Legislature approved the MOE last year, but Cuomo veoted it, explaning in his veto message that the MOE should be included in the context of the budget, said Glick(D-Manhattan).

“And that is why we are here today, to raise this issue and begin deliberations for this year’s budget,” said Glick. “We must bring a strong MOE into this budget discussion and into this final budget.”

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“I think the most important thing is that the state must—and underline that word must—invest in the maintenance of effort for our students and their futures, as well as the professional staff,” said LaValle (R-Port Jefferson), above. “I don’t think you have to say much more than that.”

Glick suggested that the MOE measure could be included in the governor’s 30-day amendments, to which LaValle replied, “Ditto.”

NYSUT Executive VP Andrew Pallotta and PSC President Barbara Bowen also vowed to advocate for the measure.

“This is our opportunity, this is the one chance and I believe that with the folks with us today, we will be relentless during this budget session,” said Pallotta.

“We’re saying to the governor `this is good government, this is keeping your promise, this is funding the next gen of New Yorkers,’” Bowen said. “It’s time to do it in this budget.”

MOE is needed

Kowal thanked the chairs for their commitment to passing the MOE. The measure is necessary because it would ensure that students’ tuition would go to enhance academic quality.

Cash-strapped campuses have been forced to use tuition increases as part of NYSUNY 2020 to cover mandatory costs instead of using the revenue as intended—to hire more full-time faculty, move part-timers faculty and staff into full-time positions, and rebuild academic programs and services devastated by more than $1.5 billion in state aid cuts since 2008.

“Presently, SUNY students are financing 64 percent of SUNY’s operating budget through tuition, and are being asked yet again to pony up more if NYSUNY 2020 is extended,” Kowal said. “This isn’t fair and it isn’t right.”

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