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PSC Launches Ad Campaign Calling On State to Invest In a New Deal For CUNY

Mar 12, 2021

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CUNY Needs $273.6 Million Increase in Next State Budget

New Deal For CUNY Legislation Would Enact Free Tuition, Fix Infrastructure & Set Improved Staff-to-Student Ratios

New York, NY – Today, ahead of the release of the Assembly and Senate one-house budget bills, the Professional Staff Congress, the union representing 30,000 CUNY faculty and staff, launched an ad campaign calling on state legislators to increase funding for CUNY and pass New Deal for CUNY legislation.

The resource-starved City University of New York system needs an increase of $273.6 million in this year’s state budget, according to the union. The funding would restore cuts proposed in the Governor’s Executive Budget, close the TAP Gap and fund the first year of the New Deal for CUNY.

Introduced last month by Senator Andrew Gounardes and Assemblymember Karines Reyes, the New Deal for CUNY bill would mandate free tuition at CUNY. Over five years it would phase-in minimum staff-to-student ratios for mental health counselors, academic advisors and full-time faculty, aligning CUNY with national standards for students’ well-being and success. The bill is racking up sponsors and gaining momentum. It now has 17 co-sponsors in the NYS Senate and 33 in the Assembly.

The ad, set to run on broadcast and digital media in New York City, Long Island, Westchester and Albany, features a recent rally in support of the New Deal for CUNY and current and former students calling for an end to tax breaks for the rich to provide needed investment in the public university system.

“When New York has faced crises in the past, we have invested in the future. Let’s pass a New Deal for CUNY and make billionaires pay their fair share,” the ad says.

As reported by NYC Public Advocate Jumaane Williams in 2019, CUNY has suffered from decades of public disinvestment from the City and State. As New York faced the pandemic, the situation for students and faculty at the University became more urgent: many contracted COVID-19, thousands of adjunct faculty were laid off, class size increased and course offerings were reduced.

“The way out of the current economic crisis is to increase investment in working people and their institutions, not to double-down on failed austerity policies,” said Barbara Bowen, President of the Professional Staff Congress. “That’s why the New Deal for CUNY is generating so much excitement in Albany. It’s the kind of visionary legislation New Yorkers are crying out for right now. To make the New Deal for CUNY possible, the state must end tax breaks for the rich. A well-funded CUNY will not only transform millions of individual lives; it will help the whole state to rebound.”

For years, CUNY has lifted thousands of working-class New Yorkers and students of color out of poverty,” said Marissa Muñoz, Northeast Regional Director of Young Invincibles, an organization supporting the CUNY Rising Alliance. “Passing the New Deal for CUNY is one of the most critical steps New York lawmakers can make to ensure an equitable recovery from the pandemic.”

“NY State must rise to the challenge and meet the historical COVID-19 crisis by investing in public institutions. Investment in CUNY is a bold statement by the Governor and the Legislature that the present and future of Black and brown communities in NY matter. Taxing billionaires to pass the New Deal for CUNY is a rejection of decades long, white-supremacist austerity that has severely crippled CUNY and its ability to bring low income Black and brown New Yorkers out of poverty. It is time for NY State to have the moral courage to stand up for Black and brown lives and pass the New Deal for CUNY,” said Lucas Sanchez, Deputy Director of New York Communities for Change.

“CUNY was tuition-free until 1976. CUNY can become tuition free once again. A majority of CUNY students’ families make $30,000 or less, and those who do not qualify for state financial aid programs, like part-time students, cannot afford the extra money every year. Students being unable to pay tuition can deter them from completing their education. As a City College student, I have seen what state divestment has already done to our schools. It is time that New York steps up and truly leads the nation in a just COVID recovery by passing the New Deal for CUNY,” said Ramandeep Kaur, NYPIRG Higher Education Project Leader.

The New Deal for CUNY would redirect current TAP funding and provide additional public funding for free tuition starting in the 2022-2023 academic year. During its five-year phase-in, the bill would require CUNY to reach ratios of 65 full-time faculty for every 1,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) students, one mental health counselor for every 1,000 FTE students and one academic advisor for every 600 FTE students. CUNY’s annual maintenance needs would be fully covered by the state. It would also set a new national standard for fair compensation of adjunct faculty and mandate that hiring for new full-time faculty positions prioritize racial diversity and inclusion of current CUNY adjuncts.


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