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State Budget Deal Results: CUNY
Overall, New York’s public universities and their students are shortchanged in the final State budget agreement for 2014-15. But our organizing has led to some positive items in the budget bills:
- $75 per-full-time-equivalent increase in Base Aid to CUNY community colleges ($4.6 million for CUNY);
- increases for CUNY’s opportunity programs, SEEK ($1.1 million) and College Discovery ($54,000)
- restoration of ASAP’s State funding ($1.7 million);
- restoration of State funding for the Joseph Murphy Institute ($1 million);
- restoration of State funding for campus childcare ($544,000); and
- small but important adjustments to the Tuition Assistance Program ($19.8 million statewide for a $165 increase in the maximum TAP award and better grants for foster children).
But the budget deal fails to keep the promise of “maintenance of effort” in State funding of CUNY and SUNY’s ongoing costs. Under the reported agreement, the universities will have to use revenue from next year’s $300 tuition hike to cover some of the expected increases to their mandatory costs that ought to be paid for by the State. Community colleges are still vastly underfunded, and the NYS DREAM Act is still not law. The Albany Times Union described the State’s disinvestment in public higher education under Governor Cuomo in an editorial, “Bait and Switch at SUNY.” The same cost-shift from the State to students and families decried by the Albany paper is analyzed in the PSC publication New York Has an Inequality Crisis. CUNY is the Solution. The Legislature also accepted the Governor’s proposal to provide full tuition scholarships at CUNY or SUNY for New York high school students who graduate in the top ten percent of their class and pursue a degree in a STEM field.
State Budget Deal Update: The Bigger Picture
While the budget agreement gives $300 million to New York City for Mayor de Blasio’s Universal Pre-K initiative, the Mayor’s plan to increase taxes on incomes above $500 thousand to pay for UPK was rejected. Rejection of the progressive tax shows Albany’s continued culpability for economic inequality in our State. The reported agreement represents a transfer of wealth from the middle class and the poor to the richest New Yorkers. The budget deal also reduces taxes on Wall-Street banks and corporations, eliminates estate taxes for some multi-millionaires and pours millions more tax dollars into charter school corporations. The Upstate/Long Island tax cap that has already led to thousands of teacher layoffs will continue under the freeze; the property tax credit linked to the freeze will continue to mainly benefit wealthier New Yorkers. Renters in the city will receive a tax credit (average of $100) tied to an income-based “circuit breaker” and K-12 school aid will increase by $1.1 billion under the deal. For good news coverage of the budget deal follow these links: NY Times, Wall Street Journal, Capital New York, Gotham Gazette. A link to a detailed breakdown of the restorations and additions to the budget made in the final agreement is here in this statement from Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.
State budget negotiations in the final days: Your action needed now!
Lawmakers in Albany need to hear from you now, while they are in the final days of the State budget negotiation. Funding for universal pre-K, and increases in funding for public schools and CUNY community colleges are being discussed by legislative leaders, but the money on the negotiating table for these important issues is far from adequate. And many issues that are critical to the CUNY community and the people of New York City are not getting the attention they deserve. Please send this electronic letter to the governor, the leaders of the Senate and Assembly and your representatives. The letter calls on them to fight for a final State budget that serves students and families who depend on public schools and public colleges and universities.
Photos from the Rally to Condemn the Senate’s Bad News Budget
Members of the PSC joined educators from the UFT at a rally outside Senator Martin Golden’s office in Brooklyn last Friday, March 21. The rally to condemn the State Senate’s Bad News Budget resolution and Governor Cuomo’s planned tax breaks for the rich was one of dozens of demonstrations held at Senators’ offices throughout the state. The actions were coordinated by PSC’s statewide affiliate, NYSUT. From Buffalo to Brooklyn, the protestors told their senators that the children of New York need good schools and quality, affordable public higher education, and that hedge funders, financiers and corporations don’t need another tax-dollar hand-out. See photos of the event above and read more about the Senate’s budget plan below.
RSVP for the Rally to Condemn the Senate’s Awful Budget
When: Friday, March 21, 3:30 PM
Where: Across from Senator Golden’s office, 74th St. and 5th Ave., Brooklyn
Download a flier.
The State Senate’s one-house budget resolution is appalling: it sells out public K-12 education in favor of charter schools and private schools; it leaves CUNY woefully underfunded while reducing estate taxes for the wealthiest New Yorkers; it includes a property tax freeze that would primarily benefit the rich; and it allocates no funding to provide financial aid to the poorest undocumented students under the NYS DREAM Act.
Educators across the State are standing up to denounce the Senate’s plan and calling for a more equitable final budget that invests in the people of New York, rejects the privatization of public education and makes corporations pay their share. The PSC is working with our partners at UFT to bring our demands to the doorstep of Republican Senator Marty Golden of Brooklyn. This Friday at 3:30 PM members of both unions (and coalition partners) will rally across the street from Senator Golden’s office at 74th St and 5th Avenue in Brooklyn. Join us to show him the voters of NYC will not stand for the budget the Senate has put forward.
State Budget Update, March 17
The Assembly and Senate passed their one-house budget resolutions last week. These are political documents that name the priorities of the two legislative houses in Albany and the changes each house would make to the governor’s Executive Budget. Here’s what the budgets provide for CUNY:
Demand a Better Budget for CUNY
Instead of funding program improvements and new faculty lines, the governor’s Executive Budget proposal would use revenue from next year’s $300 tuition hike to fill a $49.5 million gap in CUNY’s State Operating Budget. The gap is caused by the governor’s decision not to fund inflationary increases in costs for energy and other operating expenses associated with CUNY’s Mandatory Needs. The Executive Budget cuts CUNY’s celebrated ASAP program and opportunity program like SEEK and College Discovery, and does nothing to increase support for CUNY’s dramatically under-resourced community colleges. PSC members are demanding a better budget for CUNY; you can help.
New York Has an Inequality Crisis. CUNY is the Solution.
Keep New York A State of Mind! Take Action online.
Lobby with Colleagues & Students (Feb 25-26)
Pres. Bowen to Lawmakers: Help Keep New York A State of Mind
The statewide “Keep New York A State of Mind” campaign continues this week with an op-ed written by President Barbara Bowen featured in the education issue of City & State magazine. In the piece, President Bowen calls on elected leaders to support the Quality Public Higher Education Initiative put forward by NYSUT, PSC and our sister union at SUNY, United University Professions (UUP). The initiative’s main tenets: the establishment of a publicly funded endowment to increase full-time faculty and professional staff; an increase in State funding this year, after years of flat or nearly flat budgets; and significant new investment in student financial aid and opportunity programs. A SUNY-focused news piece about the proposed endowment is also in City & State. Click here for the whole issue.
We need your help to gain Albany’s support for the initiative! Visit the NYSUT Member Action Center and send an email to your legislators’ today. Stay up to date on the campaign by following it on Facebook.
“Calling on Albany” Radio Ad
PSC’s statewide affiliate, NYSUT, has launched a radio ad campaign supporting the “Keep New York A State of Mind” campaign.
The campaign calls for increased state funding for both senior and community colleges of CUNY and SUNY, along with additional state investment to strengthen and expand student financial aid and opportunity programs. It also includes an innovative demand for the creation of an endowment to fund new full-time faculty and professional staff lines at CUNY and SUNY. The legislative platform is called the “Public Higher Education Quality Initiative.”
Student-Faculty-Staff Higher Ed Action Day
Hundreds of students, faculty and college staff traveled to Albany on Feb. 26 from every corner of the state to demand a better state budget for CUNY and SUNY and a long-term strategy for investing in public higher education. CUNY and SUNY have lost nearly $2 billion in State funding in recent years; without a dramatic increase in funding, the two public university systems will be unable to ensure broad access to quality, affordable higher education. Read more to see photos of the event and read our joint platform.
“Keep New York A State of Mind” Campaign
At the urging of PSC, United University Professions, and SUNY community college union leaders, our statewide affiliate, NYSUT, has launched a sustained campaign demanding an end to chronic underfunding of CUNY and SUNY, and a proactive plan for reinvigorating the state’s public colleges and universities. The legislative campaign, “Keep New York A State of Mind,” includes an innovative demand for the creation of an endowment to fund new full-time faculty and professional staff lines at CUNY and SUNY, as well as for additional student aid and support for opportunity programs. The legislative platform is called the “Public Higher Education Quality Initiative.” A communications effort to support the campaign is ongoing. Read the media release about the campaign launch. See the print advertisements. Follow the campaign on Facebook.
Union Leaders to Legislators: Invest More in CUNY, the Solution to New York’s Inequality Crisis
President Barbara Bowen and First Vice President Steve London testified On February 6 at a hearing about the proposed State budget for CUNY in 2014-15. In her testimony, President Bowen said, “If the problem is inequality, the solution is CUNY.” Describing the soaring economic inequality that pervades New York, she made the case for CUNY by explaining how CUNY helps students who are typically low- income and people of color change their lives. “We help them by providing skills—not just job skills or STEM skills, but critical thinking skills, writing skills and skills of reimagination,” she said.
President Bowen’s testimony called for significant enhancements to the governor’s Executive Budget, including:
- full funding for CUNY’s unmet mandatory needs ($49.5 million;
- investments in new full-time faculty lines ($40 million);
- creation of an endowment dedicated to growing CUNY’s ranks of faculty and staff; and
- restoration of Base Aid funding for community colleges to its 2008-09 level (from $2,422 per FTE student to $2,672 per FTE student, resulting in $19.5 million more for CUNY).
She also urged the Legislature to expand financial aid and reject proposed cuts to CUNY’s celebrated ASAP program, opportunity programs like SEEK and College Discovery, and campus childcare at the community colleges. Click here to read the full testimony and here to download a book of supporting materials called New York Has an Inequality Crisis. CUNY is the Solution.
Come to Albany: Help Colleagues and Students Demand a Better Budget for CUNY
Legislators in Albany need to hear from you about the challenges you face teaching and working at CUNY. Please join us for the NYSUT Higher Ed Action Day (Feb. Tues., Feb 25 – Wed., Feb. 26) or the Student/Faculty/Staff Higher Education Lobby Day (Wed., Feb. 26). Sign up via this web form.
Transportation, food and hotel costs for the Feb. 25-26 Albany trip are covered by NYSUT. Members can also ride back and forth to Albany in one day with students on the buses for the Feb. 26 Student/Faculty/Staff Higher Ed Action Day. Contact Amanda Magalhaes ([email protected]) if you need further information.
Progressive Coalition Demands a Better Budget
Governor Cuomo’s Executive Budget would spend a projected budget surplus on tax cuts worth $2 billion while leaving our University woefully underfunded. A coalition of labor unions and progressive groups that includes the PSC and our affiliates, NYSUT and the Working Families Party, is lining up demand a better budget. See coverage of their push back press conference held after of the governor’s budget release.