July 19, 2010
Budget Still Blocked By Push To Privatize Public Higher Ed
Last week progress on a New York State budget continued to be blocked by differences over other issues, especially higher education policy and a property tax cap.
Gov. Paterson and State Senator William Stachowski, a Democrat from Buffalo, are still insisting on adoption of Paterson’s proposed Public Higher Education Empowerment and Innovation Act (PHEEIA) as the price of a budget deal. The Democrats’ one-vote margin means even a single Senate Democrat can hold up legislation.
The PSC opposes PHEEIA because it would reduce State support for CUNY and SUNY, privatize their funding, and limit access to public higher education. (More on the union’s position here.) The New York Times has reported one reason top SUNY officials have lobbied so hard for PHEEIA: “one of the world’s wealthiest men” has promised a gift of up to $150 million if they can get PHEEIA passed.
The PSC and its state affiliate, NYSUT, continue to press for a budget solution that doesn’t hold CUNY and SUNY hostage – a position that got editorial support in this morning’s New York Times. If you haven't already sent a message urging your representatives to oppose PHEEIA, you can do so here.
The US Congress is considering measures that will have a big impact on New York’s budget, including Medicaid funding and a teachers’ jobs bill. Check the PSC website for future details on how you can urge Congress to do the right thing.
Bowen Re-elected AFT Vice President
At the biennial convention of the PSC’s national affiliate, the American Federation of Teachers, Barbara Bowen received the highest vote total nationally among AFT’s 43 vice presidents. The PSC as a whole also won a national award for its work on the CUNY and Race project, implementing one of the AFT’s priorities for higher education – working to increase racial and ethnic diversity among faculty and staff.
The PSC’s more than 30 delegates spoke on the floor to 3,500 participants and in committees, winning support for resolutions calling for resistance to austerity budgets for public employees, for changes in CUNY’s proposed community college, for solidarity with teacher unionists who have braved violence and repression in Honduras, and other topics (see the Summer Clarion). The convention also passed a resolution on the war in Afghanistan, after extensive discussion of resolutions on this topic brought by the PSC and two other unions.
Early Retirement Incentive
CUNY’s Trustees approved participation in the State’s Early Retirement Incentive on June 28. Details on terms of the ERI are on the CUNY website. If you have further questions, contact your college’s HR office, or call PSC Director of Pension And Welfare Benefits Clarissa Weiss at (212) 354-1252.
PSC President On The Radio
Tonight, Monday, PSC President Barbara Bowen will be interviewed on the WBAI radio program "Building Bridges." The show broadcasts at 7:00 p.m. at 99.5 FM. Together with two student activists from CUNY, Larry Hales and Terrence Podolsky, she will discuss why Albany's plan to cut CUNY funding while increasing privatization is bad public policy.