Ramos: Legislature’s Budget Makes Critical Restorations to Higher Education

May 5, 2006

The Legislature has reached a bipartisan agreement that makes significant investments in New York’s higher education system while rejecting the most harmful parts of the governor’s budget.

Unlike the governor’s budget, the Legislature’s proposal will strengthen New York’s higher education system and ensure that all students have access to an affordable college education. The agreement includes an additional $239 million in state support to SUNY and community colleges.

A major accomplishment of the Legislature’s agreement is a $131 million increase in operating aid to block the governor’s tuition hikes of $500 for SUNY students. The budget will also create a new TAP program to help part-time students at all SUNY, CUNY and independent 4-year colleges and universities; increase overall SUNY operating aid – allowing SUNY to add more faculty and reject the governor’s severe TAP cuts.

The Legislative budget agreement also provided funding for local community colleges. Suffolk County Community College will receive $41.6 million – $1.2 million more than the executive budget proposed.

Other highlights of the plan include:

  • Increasing support for vital higher education programs like EOP, HEOP, SEEK, College Discovery, and Liberty Partnerships by 10 percent;
  • A proposal allowing an adjustment to tuition assistance awards for students based on special circumstances; and
  • A proposal allowing National Guard members upon completion of their enlistment, to continue receiving tuition benefits if they were deployed in a combat zone and weren’t able to participate in the tuition benefits while enlisted.

The budget provides needed capital improvement monies for SUNY and local community colleges. This means $7.9 million for SCCC, including funds for the building of a state-of-the-art science and technology building.

I understand the importance and value of obtaining a college education and keeping it affordable for New York’s families. An investment in higher education is an investment in our future and I will fight to ensure that anyone who wants the opportunity to continue their education can afford to do so.