Dear PSC Members,
While we await final details about the New York State fiscal year 2023 enacted budget, I want to provide a preliminary report and congratulate everyone who participated in this year’s extraordinary budget campaign. From the huge marches in the city, to the rallies and press conferences in Albany, to the thousands of letters, phone calls, and tweets, your advocacy made the difference this year!
PSC members elevated the New Deal for CUNY, and our perseverance and sense of possibility raised public awareness and pressure on elected officials to support public higher education. As a result, while it doesn’t include all that we wanted, this state budget represents the largest year-over-year increase in funding to CUNY in decades, breaking with the austerity of recent years, and setting us on a path to make critical advances.
The enacted budget includes major additional expenditures above the previous year.
- $122 million in new recurring operating aid to CUNY, including funding to
- hire 540 new full-time faculty across the system
- close the TAP gap this year
- increase the SEEK program investment, and
- support childcare centers on all CUNY campuses
- $40 million in one-time operating aid to CUNY senior and community colleges
- $67 million to cover CUNY employee fringe benefits
- $1 million to enhance student mental health services
- $1 billion in new capital funding, to improve CUNY’s physical infrastructure
- Expansion of TAP to part-time students
- Restoration of TAP to incarcerated individuals
These are significant commitments – all made without raising tuition! By organizing together, alongside the CUNY Rising Alliance, we displaced the longtime model of accompanying any major investment in CUNY with tuition hikes for students.
Free tuition is one New Deal for CUNY goal that was not achieved this year, and on others too, we made progress but did not get all the way. We still need to improve per-student ratios of academic advisors and mental health counselors. We must continue to replenish and diversify the full-time faculty, and create paths for adjuncts to more secure employment and higher salaries. We must ensure that HEOs and CLTs are not saddled with the work of two or three others and are able to perform their work with dignity and respect. Our community colleges secured a “hold harmless” provision, which helps stave off the fiscal impact of enrollment declines, but they need a long-term commitment to increased base aid. And after decades of deferred maintenance at CUNY, even the substantial investment of $1 billion in new capital funding may not be enough to upgrade our many neglected facilities without a multi-year commitment. That is why we will continue, along with legislative co-sponsors whose number grew this year to 76, to press ahead unstintingly for the New Deal for CUNY.
I could not be prouder of the leadership team that helped to make this budget campaign successful, including the Chapter Chairs, the Executive Council, half of whom are new to that body, and my fellow principal officers. The opening we had this year was made possible by our PSC predecessors – Barbara Bowen, Mike Fabricant, Steve London, Cecelia McCall, and others – who built a foundation to support PSC’s ambitious agenda. Our exceptionally talented PSC staff have worked tirelessly on the union’s many initiatives and events. Most of all, I am grateful to the many PSC members who, having persisted through two years of a pandemic and even more years of disheartening budget cuts, mustered enough belief in the power of collective action to throw down hard and consistently over many months. Together we have changed the narrative about public higher education in Albany and around the state. We take that momentum with us into the next struggle over the City budget and, beyond that, into our campaign to win a great next contract.
James Davis, President