Open Letter to Governor Cuomo-Lilith Fichtmueller


An Open Letter to Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

 

November 6th, 2017

 

The Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo

Governor of New York State

NYS State Capitol Building

Albany, NY 12224

 

Dear Governor Andrew M. Cuomo,

 

I write you to urge that you support the students of Dutchess Community College in accessing the right of a quality public higher education in New York State by signing the Maintenance of Effort bill passed in June with unanimous support of both houses of the New York State Legislature. Now more than ever, it is time for New York to pay its fair share and invest in the future of its students and its State University.

 

In 2011, under your leadership, New York State passed a law – NY-SUNY 2020 – dramatically affecting students of public higher education. As you know, NY-SUNY 2020 was intended to make up for significant funding cuts to The State University of New York through a commitment to “Maintenance of Effort,” an assurance that New York State would provide a steady level of funding separate from tuition that would provide for mandatory operating expenses. NY-SUNY 2020 also included the so-called “Rational Tuition” policy allowing for tuition increases at the state-operated campuses of up to $300 per student, per year. It was essentially agreed that tuition hikes would be used to enhance college life, and never to fill budget gaps.

 

In 2016 however, after five years of tuition increases, you vetoed the Maintenance of Effort provision, Bill 1596A, that would account for increases in mandated costs. Rather than fulfilling the promise that the state would pay its fair share, you forced an increased financial burden on students while colleges were challenged to sustain quality programs and services.

 

While NY-SUNY 2020 was not renewed for the 2017-2018 academic year, you saw to it that Maintenance of Effort was not included in the current state budget despite the recommendation of State Senate and Assembly leadership. Dutchess Community College is again left with an unsustainable budget gap that resulted in another tuition increase. With the Excelsior Scholarship in place, you have proven to be willing to step in the direction of universal accessibility to quality public higher education. I now call on you again to ensure the sustainable quality of our education by fulfilling your promise of a Maintenance of Effort from six years ago. I urge you to give our campuses the financial resources necessary to increase services on campus, hire more full-time faculty and staff, offer competitive salaries to bring in high profile faculty and professionals, notable research, invest in more sustainable infrastructure, limit tuition raising, and increase the overall value of campus and college life. I urge you to sign Maintenance of Effort.

 

Sincerely,

Lilith Fichtmueller

Student Government Association President and Student Trustee

Dutchess Community College