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Assembly opposes SUNY tuition hike, calls for doubling K-12 state aid hike

ALBANY - ALBANY – Setting up a budget fight on education, the Democrat-led state Assembly said Thursday it opposed Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s call for a tuition hike at state universities and favored boosting aid to K-12 schools by $2.1 billion – more than double the increase the governor suggested.

 Assembly Democrats said they want a two-year tuition freeze for the State University of New York and City University of New York systems. This stands in contrast to Cuomo and the SUNY Board of Trustees who back another five years of tuition increases of up to $300 annually.

 Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-Bronx) said the Assembly plan would “ensure that an affordable college education is within reach of every student and family in our state.”

 Besides freezing tuition, Heastie’s plan would boost grants available to low- and moderate-income students and funds available for campus infrastructure.

 Cuomo, also a Democrat, didn’t immediately comment. In 2011, he and lawmakers enacted a proposal they called a "rational tuition" policy that hiked SUNY tuition $300 annually for five straight years, resulting in about a 30 percent tuition hike. The governor said the planned increases gave families and students the ability to plan their finances as opposed to the sporadic -- and occasionally large -- tuition hikes enacted over the years.

 The Assembly Democrats also proposed boosting spending on elementary and secondary education by $2.1 billion (9 percent) for the 2016-17 fiscal year – Cuomo has proposed $991 million. Current spending is about 23.9 billion annually.

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