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President Bowen testifies for funding

PSC President Barbara Bowen appealed to state legislators to provide adequate funding for CUNY in testimony delivered to the joint hearing of the New York State Senate Finance Committee and the Assembly Ways and Means Committee in Albany on February 8.

“The debate in Albany should be about whether the governor and the legislature will prioritize quality education for a half-million mostly black and brown, mostly low-income students,” Bowen told lawmakers. At issue, she said, is “a long-term pattern in disinvestment in CUNY, which has grown measurably worse while Governor [Andrew] Cuomo has been in office.”

Among the many funding issues addressed by Bowen, who was accompanied by PSC First Vice President Mike Fabricant, was a $485 million cut to CUNY senior college funding put forward in the governor’s executive budget, which Cuomo characterized as a “cost-shift” to the city of New York. The legislature ultimately decides the allocations in the state budget — which is expected to be finalized by April 1 — and Bowen called on legislators to nix the cut to CUNY, which, in his testimony, Chancellor James B. Milliken said could force the closure of some colleges unless New York City government could make up the difference.

“The real question should not be whether the city should be paying more for senior colleges — it shouldn’t — but, rather, why the state is paying less,” Bowen said.

While expressing approval of the $240 million in the governor’s budget for funding of retroactive raises once CUNY settles its contracts with unions, Bowen noted that the amount falls short of what is needed. She also reiterated the PSC’s opposition to funding CUNY through the constant implementation of tuition hikes.

In March 2 hearings on Mayor Bill de Blasio’s executive budget, Bowen offered testimony before the City Council’s Higher Education Committee, calling on the council to make increased investment in CUNY a priority in the city’s advocacy on the state budget. Even if the issue of the governor’s proposed “cost-shift” is resolved, she said, the city must call for a final budget that includes increased investment and funding for the PSC contract.

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