Governor Cuomo’s budget proposal threatens higher education


Youleidy Vega

Budget analysis event held on Thursday in the Butler Library.

Students at SUNY Buffalo State and throughout New York State will be paying higher tuition rates if Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s 2014 budget proposal is approved.

Those were the words of Patricia Ceravole, coordinator for the New York Public Information Research Group, during a budget analysis event held in the Butler Library on Thursday.

Ceravole said that the governor’s budget could have “devastating” effects to higher education because even though funding is flat, tuition rates continue to go up.

Because of the NY SUNY 2020 plan, which was passed into legislation in 2011, tuition increasing by $300 every fall semester until 2016 when tuition will be $6,500.

Ceravole added that Cuomo’s budget, which will go before the assembly on March 12, could mean cuts to financial aid and state-funded programs such as scholarships and the Tuition Assistance Program.

Rosemary Rivera, organizing director of Citizen Action of New York, said that with all of New York’s glaring problems, Cuomo’s biggest budget priority for 2014 will be the new two billion dollars in tax cuts targeted at the wealthiest New Yorkers while cutting funding for education.

“And there is a real correlation between poverty and education,” Rivera said. “So what New York is Cuomo fighting for?”

In Rivera’s hour-long presentation, slides with distinct headings in bold letters such as Educate all Children, Boost Communities of Color and Fair Taxes emphasized her point that Cuomo’s budget proposal will only hurt the working class.

Rivera added that New York State is the worst in the United States in terms of inequality and that Cuomo’s budget stands with Wall Street and the 1 percent and not with Main Street and the rest of the people.

She blamed the problem of inequality on trickle-down economics, the idea that if you give tax breaks or other economic benefits to the rich, the economy as a whole would improve, thus benefiting the poor.

As a photo of Pope Francis was projected on the wall of the room, Rivera read the quote, “A crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power,” from him on trickle-down economics and joked about how much she loved the Pope for bringing politicians such as Governor Cuomo to light.

Leala Farnsworth, representative for the New York Inequality Campaign, said that the event was a call for action. The budget is supposed to go before the Senate by April 1, and Farnsworth said that it’s up to every individual person to make sure that their voices are heard. She encouraged the used of social media to reach politicians.

During the event, issues such as Fair Elections and the JOBS Act were also discussed as affected by Cuomo’s budget proposal.

“This budget really says a lot about Governor Cuomo with his top hat and it’s kind of proof of what he stands for,” Rivera said. “… New tax cuts for the rich. New budget cuts for the rest of us… Remember if you think it has been bad, it’s getting worse. It is not getting better by far and we need to be talking about it.”

Email: [email protected]