Upstate and Downstate Lawmakers Join Students, Advocates, and Union Leaders to Urge the State to Commit more than $250M Each for SUNY and CUNY Campuses and SUNY’s Public Teaching Hospitals
ALBANY, NY – February 7, 2022 – The Professional Staff Congress/CUNY (PSC), the union representing 30,000 faculty and professional staff at the City University of New York, and United University Professions (UUP), the nation’s largest higher education union, held a joint press conference calling on state leaders to increase funding to SUNY and CUNY programs after more than a decade of chronic underfunding.
Each requested over $250 million in additional funding, for CUNY and SUNY campuses, which includes SUNY’s three public teaching hospitals located in Brooklyn, Stony Brook and Syracuse.
UUP and PSC leaders were joined at the state Capitol by numerous lawmakers, students, and higher education advocates to demand necessary funding to rebuild and diversify the ranks of full-time faculty at SUNY and CUNY and restore student support services and academic departments throughout the university systems.
“For so many in New York, public higher education has been their springboard into the middle class. By failing to fully fund CUNY and SUNY, we undermine that pathway for countless New Yorkers,” said PSC President James Davis. “Today, faculty, staff and students throughout the state are calling on Governor Hochul and the Legislature to reaffirm the values of equity, opportunity, and access to quality higher education by reversing years of underinvestment into CUNY and SUNY. Let’s build a better future for New York by building on the executive budget and investing much more in these critical institutions today.”
The PSC is requesting $253 million to stabilize and increase funding for community colleges and hire an additional 1,385 full-time faculty and 541 mental health counselors and academic advisors. Combined with the investments of the executive budget, the PSC’s request would fund year one of the New Deal for CUNY legislation. Click here for PSC’s budget platform.
The New Deal for CUNY, sponsored by Sen. Andrew Gounardes and Assemblymember Karines Reyes, seeks to restore CUNY as a tuition-free institution for undergraduates. Over five years, it would set minimum staff-to-student ratios for full-time faculty, academic advisors, and mental health counselors, establish pay parity for adjunct faculty, and rebuild CUNY’s aging infrastructure.
UUP is requesting an additional $255.8 million to provide adequate resources to SUNY campuses and SUNY’s three teaching hospitals. This includes $100 million in direct support to campuses, which will allow them to attract and retain students by providing support and essential academic services. The request also includes $155.8 million to provide critical mission funding for public teaching hospital operations and to account for the debt service, a cost that only the SUNY hospitals bear. Click here for UUP’s legislative agenda.
“While we thank the governor for addressing longstanding issues like closing the TAP Gap and investing in the Excelsior Scholarship in her Executive Budget, her proposal falls short when it comes to providing SUNY with the dollars it needs to overcome a decade of underfunding and flat budgets, said UUP President Dr. Frederick E. Kowal, Ph.D. “SUNY is down $7 billion in state funding since the Great Recession. And here we are, in the second year of a pandemic, and there are zero dollars budgeted—zero—for critical mission funding for SUNY’s public teaching hospitals. For SUNY to meet the governor’s goal of being the best public higher education system in the nation, the state needs to make a long-term investment in SUNY. That must start this year.”
UUP created their New York HEALS agenda in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic as a commitment to health care, education, access, leadership, and sustainability. Continuing the pursuit of these principles, the NY HEALS 2022 legislative agenda is focused on the access and delivery of health care for all and making SUNY a dynamic educational vehicle for economic, social, and environmental change.
In her 2022-2023 Executive Budget, Gov. Kathy Hochul proposed an increase in state aid to campuses, providing a much-needed investment in public higher education. While this commitment was a step in the right direction to secure the SUNY system as a cornerstone of New York’s communities and higher education landscape, it still leaves issues of economic inequality and injustice that persist and must be addressed to attain a more just and equitable SUNY system.
“Investing in our public education is investing in our state’s growth, and it is crucial that our budget treats fully funding CUNY and SUNY with the urgency it deserves,” said Sen. Andrew Gounardes. “We need another $250 million each for CUNY and SUNY. We need a New Deal for CUNY and game-changing investments in SUNY, and we need them now,”
Sen. Rachel May stated, “This year’s budget is a great starting point for our higher education system. However, we must go further, specifically with our Academic Medical Centers. In my district, SUNY Upstate Hospital employees, from nurses to administrators to custodial staff and security, have long provided critical support to our community, and have stepped up and made immense sacrifices throughout the pandemic. Meanwhile, they have seen a decrease in investment from New York State for the past two decades. It is time for New York to step up and show we recognize the great value all SUNY campuses contain for students across the state. I pledge to work diligently to increase funding in this year’s budget for all of our public colleges and institutions.”
“For years, our state has put the needs of the students, faculty, and staff of CUNY and SUNY to the wayside. We, the State Legislature, and the Governor, have an opportunity to end the reign of disinvestment that has plagued our campuses, and we can target critical investments to institutions that primarily serve people of color. I call on my colleagues in Albany to increase CUNY and SUNY investment in this budget by an additional $250 million each and pass the New Deal for CUNY to properly address the mental health, academic, advisory, and full-time staffing needs of students and make CUNY free again,” said Assemblymember Karines Reyes.
“It is time to make historic and long overdue investments in CUNY and SUNY,” said Assemblywoman Anna Kelles. “CUNY and SUNY are economic engines, providing students with an accessible, high-quality education that creates a pathway to professional careers without incurring long lasting debt that prevents many from buying their first home, building a family, and starting businesses. Now is the time to make a meaningful investment in SUNY to attract the best faculty, build enrollments, and put CUNY and SUNY on solid footing so they can thrive, generate jobs, and help stabilize communities as we rebuild and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“This year’s executive budget includes historic investments in our public higher education system. We are eliminating the TAP Gap, extending part-time TAP, and increasing both operating aid and construction funding,” said Sen. Toby Ann Stavisky, Higher Education Chair. We are making investments in SUNY and CUNY, including the hiring of new, full-time staff. While we are assuredly moving SUNY and CUNY in the right direction, there is still much to be done to meet and exceed the high standards we have set for our public colleges and institutions.”
“CUNY and SUNY are New York’s principal economic mobility engines. CUNY alone propels six times more people from the lowest income bracket to middle-class or higher incomes than all the schools in the Ivy League combined. After decades of disinvestment, state budget cuts, and fiscal austerity, this is the year to make game-changing investments in creating a true affordable pathway that uplifts students and communities,” said Cory Provost, Chair of the CUNY University Student Senate. “The CUNY University Student Senate calls on Gov. Kathy Hochul and the Legislature to invest an additional $500 million in operational support for CUNY and SUNY, and to support the vision laid out in the New Deal for CUNY.”
SUNY EOP Ambassador Giovanni Harvey said, “My time attending SUNY has brought me countless opportunities, connections, and experiences that have prepared me for the future. The mentorship of the EOP program and support from faculty and staff have been invaluable to me and thousands of students across New York. Nonetheless, many students struggle through college with inadequate and scarce resources, a struggle only exacerbated by the pandemic. We are at a pivotal time in higher education, and the time to invest is now. I am confident that the Legislature will rise to the occasion and make life-changing investments into our SUNY system. For students, we cannot wait—we need investment in access, opportunity, and other foundations for student success, now.”
“Higher education plays an important role in boosting the state’s economy. Yet, for years New York has underfunded higher education to earmark other, flashier economic strategies — some that succeeded and some that failed miserably. Investments in higher education always pay back far more. While there is a lot to like, Gov. Hochul’s budget is simply too limited to provide the resources necessary to turn around higher education and help lift the state’s economy. We urge a state “rescue” package that stabilizes the higher education sector and provides the resources so that they may expand and flourish,” said Blair Horner, NYPIRG Executive Director.
About United University Professions (UUP) UUP is the nation’s largest higher education union, with more than 42,000 academic and professional faculty and retirees. UUP members work at 29 New York state-operated campuses, including SUNY’s public teaching hospitals and health science centers in Brooklyn, Syracuse, and at Stony Brook. It is an affiliate of NYSUT, the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association, and the AFL-CIO.
About Professional Staff Congress (PSC) The Professional Staff Congress is the union that represents 30,000 faculty and staff at the City University of New York (CUNY) and the CUNY Research Foundation. It is dedicated to advancing the professional lives of its members, enhancing their terms and conditions of employment, and maintaining the strength of the nation’s largest, oldest and most visible urban public university.