The state budget agreed to last night by Governor Cuomo, Speaker Heastie and Leader Flanagan provided a modest increase to CUNY’s operating budget. We are pleased that $485 million of CUNY’s state budget that at one point seemed at risk was restored. Investments in critical maintenance for CUNY’s facilities and base aid for community colleges were increased, which is positive. The parties did not agree on either an extension of the predictable tuition policy, which the CUNY Board of Trustees supported, or funding in lieu of tuition. While some additional operating funding was provided for specific programs, the loss of tuition revenue or its equivalent will impact CUNY’s ability to make needed investments in its faculty and staff at a time of record enrollment and increasing graduation rates.
Most significantly, of course, no funding was provided for settlement of CUNY’s labor contracts, which are all at least six years out of date. And while we are concerned that the parties did not agree on funding at this time, we are encouraged by the statement of state Director of the Budget Mujica in the Governor’s press conference last night that the state would address the funding issue once the contracts are settled. We are hopeful we can reach a fair settlement soon and that the state and city will provide funding to resolve these long outstanding contracts.
We are grateful for the state’s continued investment in The City University of New York, so essential to the opportunity and success of our more than 500,000 students and to the economy of the city and state of New York. Many challenging decisions lie ahead, but we have been gratified by the outpouring of support for CUNY from so many New Yorkers who recognize its critical contributions to the state’s future.