New York—Governor Cuomo’s Executive Budget plan would cripple community colleges at the City University of New York and undermine quality of instruction throughout the university, according to the Professional Staff Congress (PSC/CUNY), the union that represents faculty and professional staff at the City University of New York (CUNY).
The Governor’s budget for CUNY senior colleges proposes an $11.9 million cut carried over from the state’s current-year deficit reduction and a newly-proposed $83.2 million cut, for a total reduction of $95.1 million. Continuation of last year’s cuts to the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) is also part of the Governor’s budget plan, along with a 10-percent ($226 per full-time equivalent) drop in Community College funding. If enacted, the latest community college cut will bring the total three-year reduction in state aid to community colleges up to a $641 per FTE— a cut of almost 25%.
PSC/CUNY contends that the governor’s deep cuts to education, healthcare and social services target the most vulnerable and threaten the state’s economic recovery.
“Budget-setting is about making choices, and this budget, in the state with the highest income inequality in the country, represents a choice to advance the interests of the wealthiest New Yorkers at the expense of the poor and middle class,” said Barbara Bowen, president of PSC/CUNY, who charged that the governor is essentially delivering a Bush-era tax cut to the rich by refusing to maintain the income tax surcharge passed last year or consider other potential revenue streams.
Bowen bemoaned the harm that long-term disinvestment in CUNY has wrought on the University and warned that the governor’s budget would sap CUNY’s ability to provide a path to opportunity for thousands of students who are struggling to overcome the huge—and growing—economic inequalities that exist in our state.
“After three years of budget reductions totaling $205 million, our classrooms are packed elbow-to-elbow, our students are graduating late and paying higher tuition, and our campuses are falling into disrepair,” she said.
PSC First-Vice President Steve London also questioned the Governor’s priorities.
“Larger class sizes, fewer courses, fewer full-time faculty, less student mentoring and guidance, longer time to graduation, and more students failing and dropping out—these are the choices Governor Cuomo made in his budget. Instead of asking millionaires to pay a little more, Cuomo would ask CUNY students to put their future on hold. That will hurt all New Yorkers,” said London.
PSC/CUNY members are mounting an intense program of public education, organizing and direct advocacy to expose the danger of the state’s continued disinvestment in CUNY and press for better budget alternatives.
The Professional Staff Congress/CUNY, affiliated with NYSUT and the AFT, represents the 22,000 faculty and professional staff at the City University of New York. It works to advance the professional lives of its members, enhance their terms and conditions of employment, and maintain the strength of the nation’s largest, oldest and most visible urban public university.