June 8. 2021
We’ve concluded another year of fighting for a fair and equitable city budget. Thank you to all those who played an important role in advocating on behalf of our union and our students. The City budget for CUNY for Fiscal Year 2022 includes critically needed improvements over the Executive Budget: the Mayor’s $10 million cut to ASAP was eliminated, $6.5 million was allocated for a job training and placement program that will benefit 1,000 CUNY students, and $4 million was set aside for scholarships for Black and low-income CUNY students. Additionally, the Council restored cuts from Fiscal Year 2021 by allocating $1.7 million for remediation programs, $875,000 for food insecurity programs and $600,000 for childcare (an increase from $510,000). The Council also funded other important initiatives, including $4.5 million for CUNY research institutes and $1.5 million for the CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies. We thank the City Council for funding these programs and congratulate the student and community allies, candidates for City office, and council members who campaigned with the PSC for them. But these programmatic victories are only part of the story.
Unfortunately, the city budget also reduces CUNY’s general operating allocation by $67 million, leaving the university to backfill the cut with federal stimulus money. However, the Financial Plan indicates that this cut will not become permanent, and that the city will recommit the $67 million in Fiscal Year 2023.
The purpose of CUNY’s one-time pandemic aid was to protect the health of a half-million students and 40,000 workers in 300 buildings. Additionally, the PSC continues to advocate for the use of federal funds to rehire 2,000 laid-off adjuncts. Now a portion of CUNY’s federal aid must be used to offset the shortfall in City investment. Given this reality, City leaders have an obligation to ensure transparency from CUNY. We ask that the Mayor and the Council join the PSC in calling on CUNY to release a plan to use the stimulus to restore the full $67 million, rehire adjuncts to staff additional course offerings, and protect health and safety on campus.
The PSC wanted much more out of this budget—full restoration of CUNY’s baseline budget without cutting into CUNY’s stimulus, funding to offset tuition losses from COVID-year enrollment declines, additional baseline funding to support the New Deal for CUNY. The stimulus money will offset the City cut, and it can be used to repair the damage done to CUNY during the pandemic, but CUNY needs increased annual funding from the City to repair the damage done during decades of racist austerity. We look forward to working with our allies, including those newly elected to city government, in next year’s fight to make our vision of CUNY a reality.
With recently updated ballot counts from the Board of Elections we’re confident that with new CUNY champions on our side and a growing political and legislative operation, the PSC is well positioned to win a better CUNY budget next year. PSC endorsed winners like Jumaane Williams as Public Advocate, Brad Lander as NYC Comptroller, Borough Presidents Donovan Richards in Queens, Vanessa Gibson in the Bronx, Mark Levine in Manhattan and Antonio Reynoso in Brooklyn. Together, with over 20 victorious PSC-endorsed council candidates and a growing coalition of student and community groups, a truly transformative investment in CUNY, and the students we serve, is within our reach.
We will send a more detailed update on PSC endorsed candidates when the Board of Elections certifies the results. Additionally, as we continue to review the city budget, we will share additional analysis not only on its potential impacts on CUNY but public workers too.