ALBANY — Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Tuesday vetoed a bill that would have forced the state to pick up more of the cost of public colleges sought by students and their families who argue they are paying an unfair share of the rising cost of higher education.
Cuomo said the bill would have shifted hundreds of millions of dollars in costs from colleges and students to the state’s general fund. Advocates for the bill said the state has failed its obligation to provide a “maintenance of effort,” or payment of its fair share of rising costs, as students have been hit with annual increases in tuition at the State University of New York and City University of New York.
Cuomo said his commitment to education is “unparalleled.”
“These bills would add hundreds of millions of dollars in increased and unbudgeted costs to the state’s financial plan, which will ultimately be shouldered by the state’s taxpayers,” Cuomo stated in his veto message. “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.”
The SUNY Student Association said the measure would have provided needed help to lower-income students and strengthened instruction as enrollment grows.
Without the bill, “full-time faculty-to-student ratios will remain inadequate, and counseling, advisement and other critical student support services will suffer — and so will many students,” according to the SUNY student group. “As it is, many students can’t register for the courses they need to graduate.”
The New York Public Interest Research Group said the bill would have fixed an error that requires colleges to use tuition revenue to pay for rent, electricity and benefits for staff.
“The governor’s veto yesterday translates into a veto of enhanced student services, like expanded course offerings and advisement resources, which would increase on-time graduation and student success,” NYPIRG stated.
The New York State United Teachers union said the bill would have made the state general fund pay for noninstructional services such as energy costs and building renovations.
“Our SUNY and CUNY systems open the doors of opportunity for students and help make our state more economically competitive,” NYSUT said Tuesday. “We advocated for this ‘maintenance of effort’ legislation because we believe the state should pick up more of the mandatory costs of operating these exemplary institutions.”
Cuomo on Tuesday also vetoed a bill that operators of adult homes for elderly poor New Yorkers and disabled residents had argued was critical to avoid the closing of more of the facilities, including those that house nearly 7,000 people on Long Island.
Supporters of the bill had sought an increase in the government rate paid to these facilities that care for the elderly and disabled who have less than $2,000 in assets. The facilities allow residents to avoid nursing homes, which consume more government subsidies, the bill’s advocates had argued. The rate hasn’t been raised in a decade.
In his veto message, Cuomo said the issue must be handled in budget negotiations with the Legislature. He said the bill, which was overwhelmingly approved by the Senate and Assembly, was “not supported by any identifiable funding source.”