For Immediate Release
October 18, 2022
NEW PALTZ, NY - United University Professions (UUP), the nation’s largest higher education union, held a rally in New Paltz today to bring attention to massive projected operating deficits at several SUNY campuses, which threaten the future viability of public higher education in the Hudson Valley and Southern Tier.
UUP President Frederick E. Kowal joined New Paltz Mayor Tim Rogers, Ulster County Legislator Megan Sperry, and state Assembly candidate Sarahana Shrestha at SUNY New Paltz to reiterate the immediate need to fully fund SUNY New Paltz, which faces a $10 million projected deficit, and SUNY Delhi, which has a $8.4 million projected deficit.
“Our SUNY system is reaching a breaking point. Continued, long-standing underfunding hurts students, jobs, and our state’s economy and will undoubtedly have irreversible effects on communities across the state,” said Kowal. “New York must make public higher education public again, which can only be accomplished through a full financial commitment by the state, ending the reliance on student tuition to fund the system and harmful privatization practices. As public higher education system deficits skyrocket at schools like SUNY New Paltz and SUNY Delhi, we’re pleading with state lawmakers to hear us loud and clear: there is too much at stake to withhold funding any longer.”
"Investing in SUNY is the low-hanging fruit of economic development. Albany works hard figuring out ways to fuel prosperity for individuals and communities across New Yor State. But the puzzle is less complicated when we consider how impactful it is to invest in an existing institution like SUNY and its economic engine,” said New Paltz Mayor Tim Rogers.
“SUNY New Paltz is a major economic driver in Ulster County. It brings students, families, faculty, and staff to restaurants, shops, small businesses and other services. As one of the largest employers in the county, the salaries and well-being of its employees ripple out in the county. If folks are struggling to make ends meet, they aren’t going to be spending in our stores, or going out to eat. We have seen a major population shift and we are currently navigating a housing crisis, as well as a major increase in cost of living expenses. If we continue on the path that we are currently on, we will not be able to retain staff, and in time, students,” said Ulster County Legislator Megan Sperry.
“There is no reason New York can’t have one of the best public education systems in the world. Instead, our SUNY campuses in the Hudson Valley and beyond are barely getting by, thanks to sustained budget cuts over the years. At a time when everyday survival is a struggle for many families, young New Yorkers need a direction for something they can work toward. An adequately-funded SUNY system can and should play an integral role in that,” said state Assembly candidate Sarahana Shrestha.
SUNY New Paltz and SUNY Delhi are two of the largest employers in their regions, and act as economic engines for their local economies. SUNY New Paltz contributes $335.9 million in economic activity annually to the Hudson Valley. SUNY Delhi contributes to the nearly $3 billion in economic output of SUNY schools in the Southern Tier.
Boosting operating aid for state-operated campuses is a pivotal first step to protect affordable public education and jobs, and transpose the state’s decades-long disinvestment in SUNY. UUP and other leaders will continue to urge Albany to fully fund SUNY campuses facing multimillion-dollar budget deficits at a series of rallies across the state this fall.