Senate Republicans Propose Amendment to Increase Affordability and Access to Higher Education

Dean G. Skelos

April 03, 2009

Members of the Senate Republican Conference today proposed an amendment to the higher education budget legislation being advanced by the Senate Democrats that would help improve the quality and affordability of higher education by ensuring that money from tuition increases go directly to SUNY, increasing the tuition tax credit, and creating a prepaid college plan for SUNY and CUNY. Senate Democrats voted to defeat the amendment.

Under the budget agreement announced by Governor Paterson, Speaker Silver and Senator Smith, funds from SUNY tuition increases would be redirected to help offset General Fund expenses.

“There is no greater investment a parent can make than to ensure a college education for their children,” said Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos. “If SUNY does not get to keep revenues generated from the tuition increases, they will be forced to reduce services for students, limit enrollment, increase class sizes, and make staff and faculty reductions. This amendment ensures that taxpayer dollars will go to the classrooms where they belong, rather than being stolen from our families in order to help balance the general fund.”

“This amendment makes three critically important changes to ensure the quality and affordability of higher education in New York State,” said Senator Ken LaValle, ranking Republican member of the Senate Higher Education Committee. “First, it restores revenue from tuition increases where it rightfully belongs. It also increases the tuition tax credit and creates a prepaid tuition program that would generate much needed revenue for SUNY and CUNY in exchange for fixed tuition at any SUNY or CUNY school when the participants are ready for college.”

Senate Republicans also voted to increase the current tax deduction/credit limits that have remained unchanged since 2000. Under this amendment, the amount of deductible tuition expenses for New York families would be raised from $10,000 to $12,5000 and the tuition tax credit would be increased from $400 to $500 a year. The plan would save New York families $4 million a year the first year, and $55 million annually thereafter.