Advocates for New York's city and state university systems have criticized the state government over underfunding the schools for years. 

“Over the last decade, frankly even more than that, we have seen just a steady decline in the amount of state support going to these institutions,” state Sen. Andrew Gounardes told Capital Tonight. 

Since 2010, CUNY has seen funding from the state drop by 20%. Since 2008, SUNY’s state funding has fallen by $7 billion.

According to Gounardes and other public university advocates, including unions, this kind of loss of resources affects the schools’ ability to pay faculity, hire enough academic support staff and invest in infrastructure. 

“There was an article that came out today showing that parts of Hunter College are just falling apart,” Gounardes said, referencing this article. “There is not enough money going to these university systems and we’re reaching a breaking point right now.”

In her executive budget, Gov. Kathy Hochul proposed an increase for New York’s public universities as well as funding to close the so-called TAP Gap.

“We are calling for something much bigger than that,” said Goundardes. 

Indeed, the “New Deal” for CUNY calls for a multi-billion-dollar capital plan, plus $1.7 billion in support over the next five years, which is a $500 million increase in operating support for this year alone. 

The “New Deal” for SUNY includes $600 million, including $153 million for new full-time faculty, $48.8 million to fully close the TAP Gap, the restoration of pre-pandemic community college funding, increasing adjunct pay, eliminating student fees and decreasing the cost of tuition.

“We want to see CUNY move toward a tuition free model like it was in the 70s,” Gounardes said. “In 2019, 55% of CUNY students reported being housing insecure. Forty percent reported skipping one meal a week because they couldn’t afford it. We are talking about working class students, students who are the first in their families to go to college.”