ALBANY — Some of New York’s freshman senate Democrats have clashed with Gov. Andrew Cuomo on a number of fronts, including taxes, spending and whether or not the failed Amazon deal was a good thing or a bad thing (Cuomo was in the second camp).

On Wednesday, another disagreement was in the spotlight during a Senate Higher Education Committee hearing on for-profit colleges and schools.

Cuomo in his budget plan had proposed that for-profit colleges be subject to new regulations which would govern how much of their revenue should come from tuition as opposed to taxpayer monies, and how much they should spend on marketing and advertising. That plan fell out of the budget however. Several Senate Democrats during Wednesday’s hearing said they thought such moves would be redundant.

“What the governor has proposed may not be totally necessary, as well as unnecessary,” said Queens Democratic Sen. John Liu.

“There are good schools,” as well as poor ones in the for-profit world, added Yonkers Democratic Sen. Shelley Mayer, who referenced “(o)ur strong opposition” to the governor’s proposal.

“We are dealing with a national conversation,” Mayer added, referring to the Trump Administration’s weakening oversight of the for-profit college sector on the federal level.

Representatives of for-profit schools noted that they must follow many of the same regulations that apply to private and state-run colleges and universities.

“What problem are we being asked to solve?” asked Chrisopher Barto, vice president of government relations at LIM college.

“The divisiveness that we witness nationally has come to New York and has resulted in proposed legislation that is uninformed and irrational,” added Marc Jerome, president of the Bronx-based Monroe College, a school that  has employed Assembly Democratic Majority Speaker Carl Heastie as a part time instructor.

Not all of the lawmakers were so supportive of the for-profits. Syracuse Democratic Sen. Rachel May, who has worked as an instructor and administrator at private non-profit colleges, said she was “horrified” by the faculty facilities at an unnamed private college she had visited. May also said she worried that for-profit colleges may be underpaying faculty and, therefore, undercutting salaries at not for profits schools.

Cuomo spokesman Jason Conwall said the governor stands by the budget proposal, citing studies that say students from for-profit schools tend to borrow more money, take on more debt and default at higher levels than students in public and private not-for-profit schools.

The administration’s proposal is similar to how New York regulates other businesses that target low-income communities such as payday lenders and check-cashing institutions, Conwall said.

Michael Hatten, chairman and CEO of the New York Automotive and Diesel Institute said his diesel instructors average $85,000 annually.

Both sides offered statistics on graduation rates, earnings records after graduation and college debt as reasons for or against more regulation.

State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia noted that six-year graduation rates at for-profit colleges run almost 36 percent, which is higher than the approximately 29 percent rate at the City University of New York system. For the State University of New York, it’s just under 42 percent.

But far fewer students attend for-profits than CUNY.

“Metrics are complicated. You will probably never have a perfect metric,” said Kirsten Keefe, senior attorney with the Empire Justice Center, a group that advocates for the poor, disabled and other disenfranchised people, and which has called for regulations.

Jerome had added that one measure worth watching could be sharp drops in enrollment. Such declines could be a sign of looming financial instability.

While noting that there are good and bad actors in the for-profit sector, Keefe said one of her biggest concerns centered on the loan repayment records of graduates from these schools. She drew an analogy between student loan debt and the real estate crash of 2008, which followed years of banks offering mortgages to people who couldn’t afford them.

This problem was particularly acute with minorities. Among African-Americans, for example, Keefe said that within 12 years of leaving a for-profit school, 72 percent of borrowers were in default of their loans. That number for non-profit schools was only 24 percent, however.

“The average homeowner believed there was oversight and regulation,” Keefe said. It turned out there was far less mortgage oversight than people thought, thus the financial crash.

One area of particular concern centered on veterans, who advocates said are heavily sought after by for-profit colleges. That’s due to the GI bill, which provides tuition money.  That makes veterans into veritable cash cows, remarked Raymond Curtis, of Veterans Education Success, an organization that researches and advocates on those issues.

“They are singled out,” said Gary Schacher, commander of the state American Legion, about marketing campaigns aimed at veterans. • 518-454-5758 • @RickKarlinTU