New York Gov. Kathy Hochul released her fiscal year 2024 budget proposal with nearly $7.5 billion in increased spending — a 13% increase over this year’s spending and a 22% increase over the 2022 budget proposed by her predecessor, Andrew Cuomo. .
The funding was recognized by the chancellors of the City University of New York (CUNY) and the State University of New York (SUNY), as well as Drs. Tom Harnisch, vice president of government relations at the State Association of Higher Education Executives.
“The governor has proposed some bold new investments in higher education and a comprehensive approach that will pay dividends for years to come,” he said. “It’s clear that they see SUNY and CUNY as state assets that will help grow the New York economy. He gets it.”
Harnisch believed the funding proposal was especially good in light of national trends.
“In other states, higher education has received minimal new investment amid large state surpluses, with lawmakers instead opting for deep tax cuts that could severely limit higher education in the coming years,” he said.
But the proposal has also drawn criticism from those who say the funding is insufficient to make up for years of stagnation under Cuomo and from some who work at New York’s public colleges.
“[It] it dampens our ability to best support students who want to return to school,” said Kevin Adams, director of community standards and student conduct and higher education delegate to the Professional Staff Congress at Medgar Evers College, a CUNY school. “Across the university, we were downsizing and hiring was frozen. You need to better support the infrastructure to create backup registration.”
Harnisch says it will take time to fully resolve the issue.
“Disinvestment did not all take place in one year, and reinvestment unfortunately will not be possible to do all in one year,” he said.
Dr. Ann L. Marcus, professor of higher education and director of the Steinhardt Institute for Higher Education Policy at New York University, agreed.
“It sounds like [Hochul’s] trying to make up for some serious cuts over time,” she said. “It’s not enough to fix it, but it would at least be a step in the right direction.”
The proposal would also raise tuition at SUNY and CUNY schools, indexed to the higher education price index or by 3%, whichever is lower. Some SUNY colleges could also raise tuition by 6% more per year for the next five years for in-state students, up to a cap of 30%. The changes are projected to raise nearly $100 million for SUNY and roughly $30 million for CUNY in the 2024 school year.
Adams opposed the tuition increase.
“I think [it] will be a deterrent for many students,” he said.
“I don’t think people can afford it,” she said. “People are feeling really tight right now about inflation, the economy, [and] the financial return of higher education.”
However, Harnisch argued that the same economic pressures applied to the state may have made the increases necessary.
“New York is a leader in tuition capping. However, years of high inflation, increased capital costs and declining enrollment likely contributed to the decision to propose a tuition increase,” he said.
$1.2 billion is proposed for capital financing. This includes $200 million for digital and IT infrastructure, as well as $200 million for Stony Brook University and the University of Buffalo to renovate or build new research facilities and laboratories.
“Some of these things are clearly focused on investing in things that have a good reputation,” Marcus said. “Which is all well and good, but it doesn’t really speak to the operational needs of colleges.”
Adams felt that the projects that were selected for funding were not necessarily the most important.
“There are infrastructure needs that have been neglected for decades,” he said. “This one-time support does not adequately address these needs.”
Funding for community colleges will be at the fiscal year 2022 level of $689 million despite enrollment declines. But that’s down $8 million from 2023 spending, which the governor’s office said was higher because of one-time funding for legislative supplements.
Dr. Rebecca Natow, assistant professor of education and leadership policy at Hofstra University, was delighted.
“I am pleased that the governor did not propose funding cuts to community colleges, even though enrollment in the sector has declined. Cutting funding by an amount that would reflect enrollment declines could have financially devastated some community colleges,” she said in an email. “Cutting funding could start a vicious cycle in which colleges would have to rely more on tuition and fees, and any price increases in these areas would reduce financial access to community college for many potential students, further hurting enrollment students. ”
But Marcus argued that funding should be increased, a call echoed by Daliz Perez-Cabezas, senior adviser to the vice president for the division of continuing education and workforce development at Hostos Community College, a CUNY school.
“More than ever, we need support to be able to engage students so they can come back,” she said. “[It] it helps bring students back if they know we can provide them with any additional resources to help them get through.”
The proposal would also establish a state matching fund for endowment contributions providing $1 for every $2 in private donations, up to $500 million, which Marcus said would have minimal effect.
“That’s going to be negligible because most of those places don’t make a lot of money,” she said. “Or yes, but it’s not foundation money.
Ultimately, the proposal will have to survive the legislative process as lawmakers negotiate with the governor before Jan. 1.Holy budget term. Marcus thought the pack’s chances were high.
“I don’t think it’s an outrageous suggestion,” she said. “I think it has a good chance of going that way.
Jon Edelman can be reached at JEdelman@DiverseEducation.com.