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City Council Passes Resolution Supporting New Deal For CUNY

Mar 10, 2022

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Sponsors of the State New Deal for CUNY Legislation Join Council Members, Students and Union Members in Calling for a State Budget that Funds the New Deal

New York, NY – The New York City Council passed a resolution Thursday, March 10 urging state legislators and the governor to enact New Deal for CUNY legislation, a five-year, $1.7 billion program of reinvestment in CUNY that would set minimum staff-to-student ratios, raise salaries for adjunct professors, fix crumbling infrastructure and make CUNY tuition-free again. The Council voted overwhelmingly in favor of the resolution introduced by Councilmember Justin Brannan.

Before the Council vote at City Hall Park, CM Brannan and Council Higher Education Chair Eric Dinowitz joined State Senator Andrew Gounardes and CUNY students, faculty and staff to send a message to Albany.

“For decades, CUNY has not only made higher education possible for New Yorkers of all backgrounds but it has been a proven stepping stone to economic prosperity. Now is the time for us to double down on this success story!” said Councilmember Justin Brannan. “Albany must pass the New Deal For CUNY. Together we can prevent further cuts to CUNY, reverse decades of cavalier underfunding, restore a tuition-free university and increase the full-time faculty-to-students ratio. It’s time for something big and bold. New York needs a world-class public higher education system. New York needs the New Deal for CUNY. Let’s get it done!”

“As Chair of the Committee on Higher Education and a proud CUNY alum, I am proud to support S.4461A/A.5843A, also known as The New Deal for CUNY,” said Council Higher Education Chair Eric Dinowitz. “This legislation would transform our public college system here in New York City. When this bill becomes law, students regardless of their background will have access to a quality college education debt-free, adjunct professors can receive much-deserved and overdue pay raises, and schools can hire more full-time staff, including mental health professionals. I strongly urge the state legislature to pass and the Governor to sign The New Deal for CUNY.”

State legislators are setting their budget priorities this week in advance of the NYS Senate and Assembly one-house budget resolutions and the final budget negotiations with the governor.The state budget deadline is April 1.

Per-student state funding for CUNY senior colleges has fallen 38% since 1990 and 18% since 2008, when adjusted for inflation. Years of disinvestment in CUNY have led to shortages of full-time faculty, advisors and mental health counselors, crumbling facilities and tuition hikes.

Senior colleges of CUNY are funded largely by the state. The community colleges are funded by the State and the City, with the City providing 42% of the funding in addition to the State’s 30% share.

“This resolution passed by my colleagues in the NYC Council today shows how much our City needs the New Deal for CUNY, and how crucial it is for the economic recovery of NYC that we secure this investment for CUNY in this year’s state budget. Securing a New Deal for CUNY means we invest in fixing the crumbling infrastructure where ceilings are literally falling on students in classes; invest in supporting our staff and faculty members with living wages and the resources they need to help their students succeed; invest in ensuring that CUNY is tuition-free and truly financially accessible to any and all New Yorkers who want to pursue higher education. We have less than 3 weeks before the state budget is finalized — and I know that, together, we can get this done,” said Senator Andrew Gounardes, Senate sponsor of the New Deal for CUNY.

“Thirty-seven members of the New York City Council are voicing their support for the New Deal for CUNY,” said Assembly Member Karines Reyes in a separate statement. “Our local representatives have identified how crucial the New Deal for CUNY would be for their constituencies. Albany must take notice and enact this vital legislation that will provide our students, faculty, and staff with the resources they deserve all while returning CUNY to the equitable free institution that it once was.”

James Davis (video), president of the Professional Staff Congress, the union representing 30,000 CUNY faculty and staff was at City Hall Park along with dozens PSC members and students.

“We’re proud to join the City Council, and a growing coalition of lawmakers, labor unions, community groups, students and alumni in calling on the Senate and the Assembly to make New Deal for CUNY investments their priority in the budget negotiations,” said Professional Staff Congress President James Davis, Ph.D. “This wealthy state can afford to end the shortages of full-time faculty and staff, the dependence on low-paid adjuncts and the degradation of our CUNY buildings and facilities. The time has come for a well-funded, tuition-free CUNY education.”

“Thank you to Councilmember Brannan, Council Higher Education Chair Eric Dinowitz and all the Council members for putting the people of New York first! CUNY was well-funded and tuition-free for New York residents for more than a century,” said Remysell Salas, Campaign Director of the CUNY Rising Alliance. “New York would not be the city and state it is today had CUNY not provided a way for waves of immigrants to receive a free, rigorous college education. If a free, fully-funded CUNY was good enough for the majority white population in its first century, surely it is good enough for the majority students of color population today.”

The resolution comes days after over a thousand New Yorkers marched across the Brooklyn Bridge in support of the New Deal for CUNY and increased funding for public higher education. Seventy-five state legislators are now cosponsoring the bill. They represent majorities of the Democratic lawmakers in both the state Senate and the Assembly.

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