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A Win on Tier 6

State Budget Results

No New Deal but Above Flat in a Tough Year

PSC members visited dozens of legislators and rallied with NYSUT and UUP in the NYS Capitol on March 26th. PSC members and CUNY students joined the union, CUNY Rising Alliance, and other groups for the statewide Higher Education Action Day on February 28th PSC President James Davis and First Vice President Andrea Vásquez met with State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins Tuesday, April 16 as the final details of the budget were being decided.

Thanks to your last minute phone calls, activism, and support, we’ve closed the state budget fight in a stronger position than expected only a week ago. As it became clear that the Governor would prevail in her refusal to raise taxes on large corporations and ultra-wealthy New Yorkers, the outlook dimmed. But in the end, significant gains were made on pensions, operating aid for CUNY, the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP), and capital funding for CUNY facilities, and programmatic cuts in the Governor’s Executive Budget were restored.

In partnership with NYSUT, we achieved an important retirement milestone for many newer employees. We helped lower the Final Average Salary calculation from five to three years for Tier 6 members. Members usually earn more later in their careers, so a three-year instead of a five-year calculation means more money every year in retirement. This brings Tier 6 more in line with Tier 4 pension recipients, though there is much more work to be done.

Our New Deal for CUNY campaign has a prominent profile in Albany. This year, our coalition partners in education modeled their language after ours, calling for a New Deal for Higher Education. We didn’t get it all done, but we kept our $53 million in funding for new faculty hires. It’s now recurring money that we won’t have to fight for every year. By lobbying hard up until hours before a deal was finalized we achieved what even some of our closest allies thought was impossible: We secured an additional $40 million in new operating aid for senior and community colleges above last year’s enacted budget. We were told it was crazy to try to increase our funding in a year dominated by K-12 funding formula concerns, housing promises broken, and healthcare needs–but we persisted and mobilized. Your calls and outreach at the end made a critical difference. We also secured $4 million in new base aid dedicated to CUNY’s community colleges and got programmatic money restored.

Additionally, the Enacted Budget increases the TAP awards for the first time since 2000. It raises the minimum award from $500 to $1,000 and increases the maximum income limits for dependent and independent students. These changes will help our student population of full-time workers and non-dependent students and the children of many PSC members.

Importantly, we also provided a counterpoint to our administration’s exclusive focus on collective bargaining in the state budget. The state and city have an obligation to fund our contract. That can and should be separate from the budget – not competing with CUNY demanding the funding needed to run CUNY.

Though it is frustrating not to have achieved even more in this cycle, PSC members must be a voice in Albany because we know our true issues. We know we don’t have an enrollment crisis at CUNY–we have a retention and staffing crisis. Now we must hold the administration accountable for spending general operating money responsibly and in ways that best serve our members and the quality of the education we provide.

We must continue to move next year’s decision makers to support our priorities for CUNY. We must fight alongside our allies in the communities we serve; we must be part of a real push for increased state revenue in next year’s budget. We have done good work in the face of long odds. Onward to the city budget!

Published: April 25, 2024

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Protest at the May 20 BoT Meeting