Anne Wiegard asked: I would like to know the extent to which the 2024 budget reflects the proposals of the higher education unions (UUP and PSC, backed by NYSUT) for funding SUNY and CUNY more fully. For decades the state has grossly underfunded these institutions (especially SUNY’s public teaching hospitals) and its programs and the SUNY and CUNY administrations don’t aggressively advocate for funding as they should do.
This is a timely question, given that the legislature held its higher education budget hearing today. But you heard it here first: New York’s higher ed unions are most certainly asking for more money.
Governor Hochul’s executive budget proposes to increase its operating budget for SUNY campuses by $54 million and CUNY by $36 million, while keeping the number of full-time faculty in both systems flat. In both cases, staff unions say the resources fall short of what they need.
The PSC, the CUNY staff union, is demanding an additional $1.29 billion on top of the $5.8 billion total the governor has proposed — most of which would go toward its proposal of making the first 60 college credits free for students and hiring enough new full-time faculty to maintain a 15-to-one professor-student ratio. The PSC has also argued to raise the annual floor for community college funding.
The UUP, the SUNY staff union, is asking for an additional $139 million in direct campus funding and $110 million in operational funding on top of the $13.3 billion that the governor has proposed. As part of its budget response, the UUP president Fred Kowal has also rebuked SUNY’s controversial plan to close the teaching hospital at SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University in Brooklyn. —Max Parrott, New York Focus contributor