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CUNY stands to lose 5.2% of Albany aid

The CUNY system would lose 5.2 percent of its state funding under the $132.9 billion budget Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed last week.

That decrease pans out to $37 million less than last year for the city’s public colleges, leaving them with $670 million in state money for the coming fiscal year.

State Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Whitestone), the ranking minority member of the Senate Higher Education Committee, said the slash will deal a “very dramatic and traumatic” blow to the already strapped group of schools, which includes four institutions in Queens alone.

“Public higher education is being cut disproportionately to other state services. There’s been a 20 percent cut in state aid to CUNY over the last 10 years. It went from 63 percent of CUNY’s operational budget 10 years ago in the 2001 budget to 43 percent of its operational budget last year,” she said. “This has gone on for many years. It’s been a slow erosion of state support for higher education over the last 30 years. The result will be smaller class sizes, fewer courses offered, fewer full-time faculty and it will take even longer for students to graduate.”

But Stavisky has hope that she and her colleagues in the state Legislature will be able to restore during the budget negotiation process at least some of the state higher education funding set to be eliminated.

A joint hearing between both the Senate and state Assembly’s Finance and Higher Education committees is scheduled for Thursday at 9:30 a.m.

CUNY Chancellor Matthew Goldstein said in a statement that he will work to do what he can to make sure the city’s colleges are universities are hurt as little as possible by the final budget, which is scheduled to be adopted April 1.

“We remain committed to working with all parties in order to mitigate the negative impact of proposed reductions and to maintain high quality and accessibility to educational opportunities that CUNY represents to hundreds of thousands of New York families,” he said.

Reach reporter Connor Adams Sheets by e-mail at csheets@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4538.

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