As budget negotiations progressed, dozens of students, faculty, college staff and union leaders and legislative allies descended on the Capitol Wednesday, March 23 to call for an additional $1 billion–$500 million each–for CUNY and SUNY. During a rally outside the Capitol, advocates performed a “cantestoria,” a street theater with banners and 2-D puppets enacting New York’s disinvestment in CUNY and the hope for the better university that the New Deal for CUNY can make possible. PSC/CUNY President James Davis and NYSUT President Andy Pallotta joined the action along with SUNY faculty leaders, including the president of United University Professions (UUP), who spoke about the needs of the SUNY system and its public teaching hospitals.
The groups were joined at the rally by Assembymembers Khaleel Anderson, Kenneth Burgos, Harvey Epstein, Phara Souffrant Forrest, Emily Gallagher, Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas, Chantel Jackson, Ron Kim, Zorhan Mamdani, Yuh-Line Niou, Karines Reyes, Linda Rosenthal, Phil Stek, and Monica Wallace. Senators Andrew Gounardes, Robert Jackson, and John Liu also spoke in support of increasing CUNY and SUNY funding by $1 billion. Here is a YouTube playlist with videos of the elected official’s statements.
In her 2022-23 Executive Budget proposal, Governor Hochul committed to investing $1.5 billion for CUNY and SUNY over the next five years, but after decades of state disinvestment, years of higher education austerity and the impact of two years in the Covid-19 pandemic, CUNY and SUNY urgently need more funding.
As a result of past austerity budgets, CUNY and SUNY have faced tuition hikes, reductions in student services, over reliance on underpaid adjuncts and shortages of full-time faculty and staff. Recognizing the urgent need at SUNY and CUNY, the Legislature put forward budget plans that accelerate the Governor’s plan, proposing an increase of more than $1 billion for the two university systems in this year’s budget.
The proposed increases by the Senate and Assembly over the governor’s budget are needed to hire more full-time faculty, advisors and mental health counselors, rebuild academic departments and student services, stabilize community college budgets and to cover capital debt service and restore critical mission funding for the SUNY teaching hospitals.
“We’re all here to fight back against decades of disinvestment in higher education, to support students, faculty, staff and communities of SUNY and CUNY…We now have the chance for a once in a lifetime investment in New York’s future with our proposed budget,” said Assemblymember Phil Steck.
We need this money for operating assistance across every single CUNY campus and SUNY campus,” said Assemblymember Zorhan Mamdani.
“We have nine days to go to make sure that we do everything in our power–students, faculty staff, senators, assembly members, allies–everything we can do to make sure we don’t come home unless we have that $1 billion for public higher ed,” said Senator Andrew Gounardes.