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Cuomo Rejects SUNY, CUNY ‘Maintenance’ Legislation

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday vetoed legislation supported by several University at Albany groups which would require the state to pick up all costs at SUNY and CUNY campuses.

Cuomo in a veto message said the cost of the bill would be a fiscal burden to state taxpayers. In the same message, the governor who has blocked “maintenance of effort” legislation in the past — underscored an “unwavering” commitment to education funding.

The governor vetoed MOE legislation two years ago. It was pushed last year into the state fiscal plan after the governor argued funding should be hashed out during budget talks.

Along with a preference to discuss MOE during the budget process, Cuomo pointed to federal cuts as a reason behind his block.

“At a time when the federal government has enacted and is threatening additional devastating cuts to the state, it would be irresponsible to incur such unbudgeted costs at this time,” said Cuomo.

Public higher education advocates for months have been pressuring the governor to sign MOE into effect. Such legislation passed through the state legislature last spring, they argue, could prevent tuition hikes.

There are roughly 25,000 signatures on a MOE petition sponsored by the SUNY Student Assembly, a university system-wide organization student advocacy group, and the New York Public Interest Research Group. According to a press release at the time of the veto, Cuomo’s office never responded to the petition.  

UAlbany leaders in the Student Association and Graduate Student Association both have advocated alongside SUNY SA. In September, all three groups held a scantily attended rally for MOE with state lawmakers.

Jordan Carleo-Evangelist, UAlbany director of State & Community Relations, in a statement lauded MOE advocacy from students leaders in SUNY SA.

“As state budget season approaches, the University at Albany is committed to being a part of continued discussions with legislative leadership and the governor’s office about the funding needed to maintain SUNY’s status as a leader in world-class, affordable higher education,” he said.

Along with student representatives, members of the United University Professionals chapter have also supported MOE. The bill would’ve funded salary increases and other rising operational costs.

University comptroller Kevin Wilcox at the last SA senate meeting described lack of MOE as the greatest budget worry looming over UAlbany.

“If there’s mandated increases that we don’t get funded for from the state and therefore we can’t pay them or you guys end up paying for them completely, the state didn’t match it and that’s the biggest challenge right now,” said Wilcox.

 

Tyler A. McNeil is the current managing editor for the Albany Student Press. The Capital Region native previously served as managing editor for The Hudsonian, and as an intern for the Times Union and Capital Tonight.

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