Bipartisan Budget Veto Override
From the NYS Assembly • Sheldon Silver, Speaker
Ronald Canestrari • Chair, Higher Education Committee
Legislature makes the right choice —
The Legislature stood firm in its bipartisan effort to bring the people of New York a fair and responsible budget. Legislators in both houses showed their commitment to their constituents by overriding the governor’s callous vetoes and making the right choices for New York.
The Assembly and Senate’s bipartisan budget restored nearly $400 million of the governor’s $703 million cut to higher education – a move that will help safeguard the dream of a college education for New York’s students and help revitalize our economy.
Protecting TAP and Opportunity Programs
The Assembly and Senate know New York should be expanding access to higher education – not limiting opportunities for our state’s most disadvantaged students and low-income families. That’s why the Legislature rejected the governor’s attempt to slash the Tuition Assistance Program, which would have withheld one-third of a student’s TAP award until after graduation. The governor’s cut would have pushed students into further debt or forced them to drop out of school altogether.
The Legislature also restored $36.9 million for the state’s Educational Opportunity Programs, whose direct aid plays a crucial role in helping New York’s most disadvantaged students. These programs help pay for textbooks, provide counseling and tutoring, and offer a pre-freshman seminar to help acclimate students to the rigors of higher education.
Keeping SUNY and CUNY affordable
The administration’s original proposal would have forced New York’s public colleges and universities to increase tuition by $1,400 a year – making New York the fifth-most expensive state-operated college system in the country. If the governor’s proposed budget went unchallenged, tuition at public colleges would have increased up to 38 percent, and critical financial assistance would have evaporated for countless students. To lessen that financial burden on students and working families, the Legislature cut the administration’s proposed tuition hike by one-third, to no more than $950 per resident student.
Yet, even before the ink dries on the veto overrides, the governor’s administration is still arrogantly seeking ways to undermine the Legislature and hike tuition for resident students over $950. According to published reports, Governor Pataki’s SUNY Board of Trustees may ignore the will of the Legislature and unilaterally impose a tuition hike beyond the level intended. The move would be unfair to our families who are already making important decisions based on the budget enacted by the Legislature. The governor must make the right choice and not attempt to push the dream of a college education out-of-reach of our working families.
Restoring community college aid
Community colleges are great places to get a college education – especially for non-traditional students working to acquire new skills for the job market. But the governor reduced base aid by 15 percent which could have raised tuition and local taxes. The Legislature’s budget includes $79.4 million more than the governor’s budget to help SUNY and CUNY community colleges provide quality, affordable higher education, including $74 million in base aid, $3.4 million in rental aid, and $2 million in contract course aid.
Protecting local economies
The state Department of Labor has reported that in 2001, colleges and universities employed almost 240,000 people and paid out almost $10 billion in total wages in New York State – figures that don’t even factor in the ripple effects of on-campus student jobs or the money spent by colleges in the community.
This evidence proves how higher education affects our state’s many local economies, but the governor’s cuts to higher education would have drained the vitality out of many communities – continuing the downward spiral New York has faced under the governor’s failed economic policies. The Assembly and Senate budget recognizes the importance of higher education to our local economies and protects it from his budget ax.
Investing in New York’s future
Throughout often contentious budget negotiations, the Assembly held strong to our position that higher education funding must be a priority. This year’s budget continues the Assembly’s tradition of fighting for a solid investment in New York’s colleges and universities.
New York’s working families count on affordable tuition and adequate tuition aid to help build a brighter future for their children. As we try to entice more out-of-state high-tech businesses to come to New York, we need to ensure that our workforce is well-prepared. Our colleges and universities are getting our students ready for these jobs while simultaneously driving our economies. The Legislature has made the right choice by investing in higher education – an investment that will help drive our economy now and in the future.
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