Governor Cuomo released his Executive Budget proposal last week along with two plans to close the State’s $15 billion deficit. (Video of his presentation and news release.) The first plan assumes a $6 billion infusion of stimulus funding from Washington and closes the remaining gap with a combination of 5% across-the-board budget cuts and revenue raisers, notably a temporary, refundable tax rate increase for extremely high earners, mobile sports gambling and marijuana legalization. The second plan would close the entire deficit with federal stimulus money.
But even with the full $15 billion from the federal government, Cuomo’s budget would simply return CUNY funding to the disastrous level of previous years, complete with the TAP Gap, tuition increases and a shortage of full-time lines.
Under the plan that includes $6 billion in stimulus, the 20% “withholding” from CUNY would be partially restored. A 5% cut to the CUNY senior colleges starting in the fall of 2020 would continue into next year. The budget bills released last week, which also assume $6 billion in stimulus, would make the following reductions to CUNY’s funding in Fiscal Year 2022:
- Senior college operations would be cut $26.2 million.
- School of Labor and Urban Studies would be cut $1.5 million.
- Base aid for community colleges would decline by $9.95 million. The per-student rate of funding for community colleges would remain the same, but enrollment declines would lead to this reduction.
- Rental aid would be cut by $447 thousand.
- Childcare centers would be cut by $902 thousand.
- Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP) would be cut by $2.5 million.
A new program of annual $200 tuition increases would also be enacted in the governor’s budget.
The PSC’s formal response to the Executive Budget will be delivered in testimony before a joint legislative hearing on the higher education budget on Thursday, February 4. (Watch for messages with the link to view the livestream.) But it is clear that a status-quo budget funded with a $15 billion fair share of federal stimulus or a “worst-case” budget funded with $6 billion in stimulus that forces deeper austerity are not the only options. Both budget plans would rob CUNY and the Black and brown communities we serve of the robust investment needed to help launch NYC’s recovery from the pandemic, and CUNY’s recovery from decades of racist disinvestment. That’s why PSC and our allies are launching the New Deal for CUNY and demanding increased taxes on the rich.
The Legislature and the people of New York will have a say in the budget as well as the Governor. Tens of billions of dollars in revenue raisers proposed by Invest in our New York, a coalition that includes the PSC, can be enacted to fund CUNY and the other institutions and services that New Yorkers depend on.