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Home » Issues » City Budget Campaign 2014

City Budget Campaign 2014

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Budget Testimony

City Increases CUNY Funding

Clarion article by Peter Hogness and Shomial Ahmad

In a sign of the sea change in New York City politics since the end of the Bloomberg era, this year’s discussion on City funding for CUNY was not about whether to cut – it was about how much to add…the spending plan includes an additional $19 million proposed by the mayor for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs at CUNY community colleges, an expansion that will add about 60 full-time lines. Also included was a council initiative adding around $11 million to fund merit-based CUNY scholarships, similar to the former Vallone Scholarships that were axed by Bloomberg. An additional $1 million to support CUNY’s Citizenship NOW! hotline was also added.

Read the full Clarion article.

City Budget Agreement Announced

Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Council Speaker Mark-Viverito have announced an agreement on a $75 billion City budget for fiscal year 2015 that will put 200 more police officers on the street and provide free lunch to all middle school students. The Council’s news release about the budget deal confirms that the budget will include $11.1 million for a merit-based Scholarship program benefiting NYC high school graduates who maintain at least a B average at CUNY. Many other details of the budget agreement have not been released yet. The PSC will share other information about CUNY’s budget on this page when it becomes available. The Council will vote on the deal by the end of the month.

Act Now: Speak Up for City Funding!

Action Closed

The first New York City budget under Mayor de Blasio and a new City Council will be finalized within the next few weeks. We need your help to ensure that it’s a budget that takes a new approach to CUNY funding. Mayor de Blasio has reversed years of disinvestment by allocating an additional $20 million for CUNY, and the PSC has gained support among many City Councilmembers for a major new investment: 100 new full-time positions and scholarships that would provide access for the neediest students.

You can help to make the proposal a reality by sending this message to your City Councilmember or, if you don’t live in New York City, to the Councilmember who represents your CUNY college. Click here to send the sample letter or to revise it and send your own version. Please do it today, as the time for action on the City budget is short.

PSC to City Council: Fund Need-Based Financial Aid along with Merit-Aid

PSC President Barbara Bowen and Secretary Arthurine DeSola testified on June 12 at a City Council hearing to examine proposals for need- and merit-based scholarships currently before the Council. The hearing, chaired by Inez Barron of the Higher Education Committee, featured testimony about the Academic Achievement Award (AAA), a proposed $400 per semester merit-based scholarship for students from NYC high schools and about a $5 million need-based aid initiative proposed by the PSC.

In their testimony, Bowen and DeSola said the PSC supports establishing the merit-based AAA scholarship, if it is created together with a need-based financial aid initiative. They argued both types of financial aid are needed because “the AAA scholarship will not help part-time CUNY students, nor will it provide enough aid to undocumented students or working poor independent students so that they can study full-time and progress to graduation. And the large number of students who enter CUNY with remedial needs won’t [qualify for a merit-based scholarship.] Read the testimony. Watch a video of the hearing.

City Council Members Pick Up the PSC’s Call for More Full-Time Faculty and Need-Based Financial Aid

Twenty-four City Council members have cosigned a letter from Higher Education Chair Inez Barron calling for new higher education investments in this year’s City budget. The letter, written after a meeting with PSC leaders, requests funding for two new council-funded initiatives:

  • Providing $10 million this year for a Council initiative to hire new full-time faculty and staff, taking the opportunity to increase faculty diversity and create full-time positions for experienced part-timers ; and
  • Providing $5 million this year for need-based financial aid to fill gaps in the current system of State and federal financial aid.

PSC members have been advocating for both investments throughout the spring.

PSC to the City Council: Now Is the Time to Invest in CUNY

The union has sent a letter to City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito urging her to support system-wide investments in CUNY. All members of the Council will receive a copy. The City Council has been a strong advocate for the University, according to the PSC’s letter. And they have often restored funding that previous administrations had proposed to cut. Now that the City has an administration that understands CUNY’s potential for reducing economic inequality for its students, it’s time to reinvest in the University. To that end, the letter urges the Council to support the PSC’s budget platform, which includes:

  1. Providing $10 million this year for a Council initiative to hire new full-time faculty and staff.
  2. Providing $5 million this year for need-based financial aid to fill gaps in the current system of State and federal financial aid.
  3. Providing $800,000 to fully fund Council-supported initiatives, such as the Murphy Center for Worker Education, Creative Arts Team, Dominican Studies Institute and Center for Puerto Rican Studies.
  4. Providing $10.9 million this year to fund the Council’s merit-aid program, the Academic Achievement Award (AAA).
  5. Funding CUNY’s full Capital Budget request for critical maintenance and construction needs.

The letter calls for the recruitment of the new full-time faculty from the ranks of existing part-time faculty who have already demonstrated the ability to succeed with CUNY students. It also says special effort should be dedicated to recruiting women and people of color to full-time faculty positions. These investments would be a down payment on achieving the Mayor’s transformative goal of increasing City support for CUNY by 150 million.

CUNY at the Council 2014

At the top of the page are images from CUNY at the Council, the annual City budget advocacy day cosponsored by PSC, NYPIRG and CUNY USS. This year’s event was held on May 7 at the City Council offices at 250 Broadway. Throughout the day, almost 100 CUNY faculty, students and staff met with more than 30 council members and their staff to urge support of a joint platform of investment in CUNY and financial aid. The images are courtesy of photographer Pat Arnow.

Statement on Mayor de Blasio’s Executive Budget for CUNY

Barbara Bowen, President, Professional Staff Congress/CUNY

If the problem in New York City is inequality, the solution is CUNY. Mayor de Blasio knows this and has articulated a progressive vision for CUNY that puts the University at the center of the City’s economic development strategy. Investments in CUNY pay off quickly, especially if they’re investments in the full-time faculty and student support staff, who teach classes, mentor students and help students to graduate on time and imagine new possibilities for their lives.

After years of underfunding, CUNY has a crying need for more full-time faculty and staff. With 4,000 fewer full-time faculty than when enrollments were last near current levels, the University struggles with larger classes and less availability of courses required for graduation.

The Mayor’s plan to invest $20 million in Science Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) programs at the CUNY community colleges is a powerful first step in ending the era of public disinvestment in CUNY. It marks the beginning of achieving the Mayor’s goal of dramatically increasing City support for CUNY. Read the full statement.

Download PSC’s 2014 City Budget Booklet

PSC’s City budget platform is articulated on the final page of this booklet of advocacy materials called New York Has an Inequality Crisis. CUNY is the Solution. The 16-page booklet documents the rise of income inequality in our city, the demographics of CUNY students and the role CUNY plays in creating opportunity for a half million students per year. The shameful history of public disinvestment in CUNY is also explained in the book, which argues that the Mayor’s stated goal of increasing City support for CUNY by close to 60% ($150 million) is an investment in opportunity that would lead to a rapid reduction of economic inequality in New York City.

In PSC’s City Budget Testimony, a Larger Vision for CUNY

At a City Council hearing held to examine Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Preliminary Budget for CUNY, PSC President Barbara Bowen outlined the union’s proposal for investment in CUNY “as a linchpin of the City’s attack on inequality.” The Preliminary Budget, a starting point for City budget talks released before important decisions are made in the State budget, projects a slight decrease in funding for CUNY. Before focusing her testimony on “a larger vision for CUNY, rooted in Mayor de Blasio’s ambitious plan for the University,” President Bowen said, “discussion of the final budget should start with the premise that those funds must be restored.” Click here to read the full testimony, which supports Mayor de Blasio’s plan to increase annual City funding for CUNY by $150 million and lays out a program to increase quality and access at CUNY.


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