CUNY Chancellor testifies during FY 2024 budget proposal


CUNY Newsire

Vincent Perretti

CUNY Chancellor Félix Matos Rodríguez testified during a joint New York State and Assembly Legislative Hearing on the proposed executive budget for the fiscal year of 2024 on Feb. 27.

Rodríguez started his testimony by acknowledging the success of CUNY universities in recent years, but transitioned into listing some areas where funding is required and commenting on the responses made by Gov.Kathy Hochul.

“Because we educate the workforce of today and that of the future, we recognize the need for additional financial support to educate STEM,” Rodríguez said in his testimony. “Educating students in these vital and fast-growing STEM and health care areas is more expensive than educating students in other areas.”

Rodríguez expressed his gratitude toward the governor for increasing funding for CUNY’s fringe benefits and the baselining of $40 million in strategic funding.

However, the initially proposed budget and the amount of funds allocated drastically differ.

The executive proposal recommends $642.7 million in new funding, including maintenance funding of $384.2 million and $100 million in improvements funding at the senior colleges.

“The governor’s matched $119.7 million for critical maintenance projects at the community colleges already receiving funding from the city; this represents an increase of $75 million compared to last year,” he said during his testimony.

His appreciation extended to Gov. Hochul’s allocation of a historic amount of funds to these institutions.

“We thank Governor Hochul for these funds, which are needed to maintain our 300 buildings totaling over 26 million square feet across our 25 campuses,” Rodríguez expressed in his statement. “These proactive steps, along with new funds, will greatly improve the condition of our buildings.”

Rodríguez mentioned that enrollment of CUNY students had dropped significantly but assured others that initiatives, such as the expansion of CUNY Online and modernizing the infrastructure and technology of CUNY campuses, have offset the potential loss of revenue.

“If you think about our community colleges, the tuition will still be under TAP,” Rodríguez said in a statement reported by Spectrum News. “So, probably around 80% of the students will not see a tuition increase in community colleges, which is a sector we are most concerned about because of enrollment.”

However, the Professional Staff Congress, the union that represents CUNY faculty, criticized the tuition hike.

As previously reported by The Ticker, the PSC wrote in a statement, “The proposal to increase tuition is a move in the wrong direction, especially when colleges are struggling to recruit and retain students at pre-pandemic levels and household budgets are strained by record inflation.”

Rodríguez said he is maintaining a positive outlook.

“I am extremely optimistic about the future of this great University, especially considering the challenges we have overcome and the lessons we have learned since Spring 2020,” Rodríguez said in a closing statement. “Thanks to you and Gov. Hochul for your continued support of CUNY.”