For Immediate Release
December 4, 2018
CLICK HERE for UUP President Fred Kowal's testimony to to the Assembly Standing Committee on Higher Education
UUP President Frederick E. Kowal, Ph.D., told the Assembly Standing Committee on Higher Education today that an expanded maintenance of effort provision for SUNY would aid cash-strapped SUNY campuses and provide necessary financial protections for the University’s state-operated public teaching hospitals.
Testifying at a public hearing conducted by the Higher Education committee, Kowal called for an “enhanced” maintenance of effort that would cover mandatory campus expenditures such as building rentals, utility costs, collectively bargained salary increases and fringe benefits, and inflationary and student credit increases put forth by SUNY.
“A full and complete maintenance of effort for SUNY would provide much-needed operational support for financially beleaguered SUNY campuses, several of which are facing the grim possibility of curtailing or cutting programs and shuttering departments to close deficits in their budgets,” said Kowal. “In many cases, campuses are still reeling from a series of scathing state funding cuts that took place during the Great Recession.”
Kowal pointed to a number of SUNY campuses that are considering cutting programs and services to make up for budget shortfalls caused by financial pressures and enrollment growth due in part to the so-called “TAP gap” and the Excelsior Scholarship.
SUNY Fredonia last month announced the potential closure of 13 undergraduate programs, eight graduate programs, and the reduction or elimination of administrative support services and administrative offices. Binghamton University has a $10 million budget gap administrators there say is caused by salary increases and retroactive pay collectively bargained by UUP in the union’s six-year contract with the New York state.
UUP and state negotiators signed the contract agreement in May; union members ratified the contract in a record tally in September.
If an enhanced MOE was in place, the costs for UUP’s contract with the state would have been paid by the state instead of by campuses throughout SUNY.
“UUP acted in the best interests of its members in getting the best possible contract,” said Kowal, adding that UUP’s contract is consistent with recent contracts negotiated by CSEA and PEF.
Kowal said UUP supports a maintenance of effort that would include SUNY’s public teaching hospitals in Brooklyn, Stony Brook and Syracuse—which are excluded from the current MOE.
Without MOE protections, SUNY’s teaching hospitals are vulnerable to state funding cuts that could weaken their ability to provide the highest quality health care to hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers—many of who have little or no insurance coverage and cannot afford to pay for care.
Reductions in the amount of state matching funds caused the hospitals to lose Disproportionate Share Hospital funding. During budget deliberations in the spring, the state eliminated its $80 million hospital subsidy, replacing it with $92 million in Care Restructuring Enhancement Pilots program funding for one year only.
“A true maintenance of effort would include our state teaching hospitals, which treat everyone who walks through their doors, regardless of whether they can pay for care,” Kowal said.