Legislative budget hearings wrapped up last week, with the last two hearings covering higher education and human services.

At last Monday’s higher education hearing, State University of New York (SUNY) Chancellor Nancy Zimpher asked lawmakers to provide more state support for the public university system so that it does not have to rely on tuition increases to cover its costs. The proposed Executive Budget for 2016-17 would reduce state funding for SUNY by one-half of one percent in the coming fiscal year. (Read Chancellor Zimpher’s testimony here.)

Chancellor Zimpher also urged lawmakers to renew the SUNY 2020 plan, which would allow for tuition increases up to $300 dollars a year. This provision is included in the Governor’s Executive Budget proposal. The chairs of the Assembly and Senate Higher Education committees said that they would prefer the state provide additional aid to SUNY, rather than have SUNY raise tuition again.

At Tuesday’s Human Services hearings, lawmakers expressed concerns as to whether the Executive budget adequately funds the $90 million cost associated with the Federal Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) Act; raised questions about how the state plans to implement anti-poverty initiatives; and expressed concerns regarding the implementation of the Governor’s proposal to raise the age of criminal responsibility for juvenile offenders.

The Legislature is on a break until Wednesday, Feb. 24th.  When they return, we expect the budget making process to begin moving forward in earnest.