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BUDGET CAMPAIGN:  2010-11

 

 

WHAT'S NEW | WHAT'S NEXT | WHAT WE CAN DO
MARCH 22-23 BUDGET BLITZ


CUNY and SUNY students, faculty and staff protesting budget cuts to public higher education at October 27th march and rally from Hunter College to Central Park.
 

BUDGET CAMPAIGN: 2010-11.  Find out what's new, what's next and what we can do

The Professional Staff Congress calls on Governor David Paterson to stop cutting the nation’s oldest and largest urban institution of public higher education.

The governor has proposed cuts of $84.4 million to CUNY’s 11 senior (four-year) colleges and of $285 per full-time-equivalent student to CUNY’s six community colleges. PSC members and leaders will be out in force in Albany for the foreseeable future, calling on the legislature to reject the  proposal for yet another cut to CUNY, which endured a cut of nearly $100 million in the current year’s budget and has suffered from decades of under-funding. “The PSC recognizes the difficult economic condition the state government faces. But cutting CUNY will only make the state’s economic problem worse.  Nothing contributes more to an economically secure future for New Yorkers than public higher education.  The smart strategy would be to embark now on a long-term plan for re-investment in CUNY, which has been hollowed out by decades of cuts,” said PSC President Barbara Bowen.

As the Fiscal Policy Institute noted last year, public higher education “stimulates growth in the local economy, narrows racial gaps in income and education, and helps build a solid middle class for New York’s future.”

“New York needs CUNY—now more than ever.  And CUNY needs public funding if it is to survive.  The number of full-time faculty at CUNY is almost 5,000 lower than it was last time enrollment was close to this high.  CUNY depends on the underpaid teaching of 9,000 part-time faculty.  Students cannot always get the classes they need to graduate, classrooms are so overcrowded that students perch on windowsills, and labs and libraries are often out of date.  CUNY cannot withstand any more cuts,” said Bowen.   

COMMUNITY COLLEGE CUTS: WRONG DIRECTION

The Executive Budget’s proposal to direct an especially high level of cuts to the community college budget goes directly against the direction signaled by the federal government, which has spotlighted community colleges and called for five million new community college graduates by 2020.  Governor Paterson’s proposal would lead to higher community college tuition when the CUNY community colleges serve some of the poorest New Yorkers, and when tuition at these colleges is already among the highest in the nation for community colleges.

45% of community college students at CUNY come from households with annual incomes of less than $20,000; 49% are the first generation in their family to attend college; and 39% work more than 20 hours a week. This Fall, CUNY saw record enrollments– 88,762 community college students, and expects double-digit increases (up to 10%) for the semester that will start this month. Yet the executive budget calls for reducing state aid to CUNY community colleges by 11%.  

A HISTORY OF CUTS

“CUNY and CUNY students have already been targeted by the state’s belt-tightening. We have contributed more than our share,” Bowen said. In last year’s budget (April 2009), New York State raised student tuition by 15% and cut state support to CUNY senior colleges by $44.5 million. Last month, the state cut another $53 million. The governor has now proposed an additional $63.6 million in cuts plus a $20.8 million cut in personnel services. Reducing salaries or benefits for employees makes no sense and would further harm CUNY’s ability to attract and retain the best talent to teach New Yorkers.  

STUDENTS CANNOT MAKE UP FOR PUBLIC INVESTMENT

The governor’s “rational tuition” plan recognizes the desperate need for investment in public higher education, but it shifts the funding burden to students. “Making some of the poorest college students in the country pay ever-escalating tuition is a false solution to the real problem,” said Bowen. Under the proposed plan, tuition could rise without legislative oversight, and the public universities could charge differential tuitions for different schools and programs. That would mean that students and their families may face increases of up to 10% year after year (on top of a 15% tuition hike last year), and that certain colleges and academic programs may be put out of reach for the poorest students.  “We believe that charging higher tuition for, say, a major like Engineering or Pre-Med, or for one senior college than another, would deepen existing inequalities of race and class,” said Bowen.  “Students least able to pay would be steered into the less expensive colleges and majors, with the predictable loss in opportunities and resources.  That’s not what CUNY was supposed to be about.”  

A SMARTER STRATEGY: INVEST IN OUR FUTURE

Instead of funding public higher education with “rational tuition,” the union suggests New York State adopt a “rational investment” plan of steady, escalating investment to help public higher education recover from years of underfunding.

WHAT'S NEW | WHAT'S NEXT | WHAT WE CAN DO | ARCHIVE
MARCH 22-23 BUDGET BLITZ

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