August 9, 2010
Privatizing Legislation Defeated
On August 3, the New York State Legislature finally passed a budget—and it did not include the Public Higher Education Empowerment and Innovation Act (PHEEIA), the plan to charge different tuition for different majors and to replace public funding for CUNY and SUNY with private tuition dollars.
In the course of just a couple of weeks, the PSC generated 7,606 letters to legislators on PHEEIA—the highest number the union has ever sent. And our voices were heard: Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Higher Education Chair Deborah Glick became powerful opponents of the proposal, particularly of its effect on access to education; and the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus defined opposition to the proposal as a civil rights issue. They held firm, and the proposal’s supporters were not able to win passage.
“The governor and certain legislators, often for narrow political reasons, were trying to force through a restructuring of CUNY and SUNY that would have affected the universities for a generation,” said PSC President Barbara Bowen. “Thanks to our members’ opposition, and the support we received from New York State United Teachers and other groups, we stopped them.”
State Budget Cuts
While stopping PHEEIA was a major victory, the budget approved by the Legislature currently includes funding reductions for CUNY senior and community colleges. There is, however, some possibility these reductions can be mitigated if federal legislation for increased funding to the states passes this week. The PSC will do everything we can do to resist reductions and to protect the interests of our members and of CUNY students.
U.S. Senate Acts to Save Teacher Jobs
By a 61-39 vote, the U.S. Senate approved $26 billion in aid for cash-strapped states August 5. The measure provides $10 billion that will help avert layoffs of more than 100,000 teachers and school support personnel across the country, including 7,100 K-12 education workers in New York State. It also contains $16 billion to help states defray Medicaid expenses, including $2 billion for New York. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has called members back to Washington on Tuesday, August 10, to vote on the measure. If it passes the House as expected, it will be sent to President Obama, who supports the legislation. To contact your Congressperson about this crucial vote, click here.
ERI info from the PSC
Two separate information brochures on CUNY’s 2010 Early Retirement Incentive (ERI) are now available on the PSC website. One brochure is for members of TRS; the other is for members of TIAA-CREF and other plans in CUNY’s Optional Retirement Program. Printed copies will be available at the union office. ERI information is also available on the CUNY website.
There have been some changes in the dates for the 2010 ERI. Most are minor, but TRS members retiring under Plan A of the 2010 ERI should note that the open enrollment dates have been changed to December 29 through January 26.