State Budget Deal Update: CUNY
Overall, New York’s public universities and their students are shortchanged in the State budget agreement expected to be passed today in Albany. But our organizing has led to some positive items in the budget bills:
- $75 per-full-time-equivalent increase in Base Aid to CUNY community colleges ($4.6 million for CUNY);
- increases for CUNY’s opportunity programs, SEEK ($1.1 million) and College Discovery ($54,000)
- restoration of ASAP’s State funding ($1.7 million);
- restoration of State funding for the Joseph Murphy Institute ($1 million);
- restoration of State funding for campus childcare ($544,000); and
- small but important adjustments to the Tuition Assistance Program ($19.8 million statewide for a $165 increase in the maximum TAP award and better grants for foster children).
But the budget deal fails to keep the promise of “maintenance of effort” in State funding of CUNY and SUNY’s ongoing costs. Under the reported agreement, the universities will have to use revenue from next year’s $300 tuition hike to cover some of the expected increases to their mandatory costs that ought to be paid for by the State. Community colleges are still vastly underfunded, and the NYS DREAM Act is still not law. The Albany Times Union described the State’s disinvestment in public higher education under Governor Cuomo in an editorial, “Bait and Switch at SUNY.” The same cost-shift from the State to students and families decried by the Albany paper is analyzed in the PSC publication New York Has an Inequality Crisis. CUNY is the Solution. The Legislature also accepted the Governor’s proposal to provide full tuition scholarships at CUNY or SUNY for New York high school students who graduate in the top ten percent of their class and pursue a degree in a STEM field.
State Budget Deal Update: The Bigger Picture
While the budget agreement gives $300 million to New York City for Mayor de Blasio’s Universal Pre-K initiative, the Mayor’s plan to increase taxes on incomes above $500 thousand to pay for UPK was rejected. Rejection of the progressive tax shows Albany’s continued culpability for economic inequality in our State. The reported agreement represents a transfer of wealth from the middle class and the poor to the richest New Yorkers. The budget deal also reduces taxes on Wall-Street banks and corporations, eliminates estate taxes for some multi-millionaires and pours millions more tax dollars into charter school corporations. The Upstate/Long Island tax cap that has already led to thousands of teacher layoffs will continue under the freeze; the property tax credit linked to the freeze will continue to mainly benefit wealthier New Yorkers. Renters in the city will receive a tax credit (average of $100) tied to an income-based “circuit breaker” and K-12 school aid will increase by $1.1 billion under the deal. For good news coverage of the budget deal follow these links: NY Times, Wall Street Journal, Capital New York, Gotham Gazette. A link to a detailed breakdown of the restorations and additions to the budget made in the final agreement is here in this statement from Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.
Timesheets Petitions Delivered
On Friday, PSC leaders delivered petitions on CUNY’s new timesheets to CUNY management with 2,521 signatures, representing a majority of CUNY’s professional staff (photo). The petitions demand that CUNY negotiate with the union over the impact of its rigid new timesheets imposed on Higher Education Officers and College Lab Technicians, as well as Research Associates and Research Assistants. Two-thirds of all HEOs and CLTs at campuses where the new timesheet is already in use have signed the petition. The signers want timesheets that accurately reflect the complexity and variability of professional staff schedules.
The union’s timesheets campaign has started to show results. “CUNY has already come to the table,” PSC President Barbara Bowen told the March 13 Delegate Assembly. “We are in discussions and making progress.” Read her full quote, along with reactions from leaders and members of the HEO and CLT chapters in Clarion’s latest coverage of the petition campaign.
Environmental Health and Safety Watchdogs Meeting—Mon., Apr. 7
The topic of the next Watchdogs meeting is “getting action to fix decaying campuses.” If you’re tired of working in buildings that are suffering from chronic neglect, this meeting is for you! Hear what other campuses are doing to address their health and safety concerns. The meeting will begin with a light dinner at 5:30 PM in the union’s Justice Room, 61 Broadway, 15th floor. The discussion will begin at 6:00 PM and run until 8:00 PM. Be sure you get a sandwich; RSVP by emailing [email protected].
Saving CUNY’S Past—The Story of Open Admissions—Wed., Apr. 9
The American Social History Project/Center for Media and Learning is launching a CUNY Digital History Archive with a public program on Wednesday, April 9 at 6:30 PM, CUNY Graduate Center, Segal Theatre. The forum is entitled Saving CUNY’S Past—The Story of Open Admissions. Speakers and panelists will include public higher education advocates who were active in the fight for open admissions in the sixties and seventies and in the movement against cutbacks from the eighties to the present. The project is trying to recruit as many participants as possible from the CUNY community past and present to join the archive effort, tell their story and contribute documents. (Learn more.)
Sign Up for CUNY at the Council – City Budget Advocacy Day—Wed., May 7
CUNY at the Council is scheduled for Wednesday, May 7. We need you there; sign up here. City Council members need to hear directly from you; they don’t know what it’s like to work in overcrowded classrooms in an underfunded university. You do. Meetings will take place in the morning and early afternoon at the Council members’ offices at 250 Broadway. CUNY students recruited and trained by our coalition partner, NYPIRG, will be there to lobby alongside you. Sign up here. Contact Amanda Magalhaes ([email protected] ) for more info.