New York State Budget Update
The Legislature voted on the final state budget bills for 2013-14 the week of Mar. 24-30. The Aid to Localities bill (See page 46) contained $9.2 million more for CUNY community colleges in Base Aid ($150 more per FTE) and $2 million in incentive funding for CUNY attached to the Next Generation Job Linkage Program. Provisions of the job linkage program, opposed by the PSC and our allies, which would have potentially linked community college Base Aid to “performance measures,” were not be in the final budget. The NYS Dream Act, unemployment insurance reform to help adjunct faculty and funding to keep SUNY Downstate Hospital solvent were also not be in the budget. But PSC members will continue to fight for our legislative platform in the post-budget session. (Sign up for lobby visits at legislators’ NYC offices.)
PSC’s New York State Budget Plan for Opportunity
Governor Cuomo’s Executive Budget does nothing to make up for recent cuts and decades of underfunding for CUNY. It is essentially a flat budget that covers only a portion of the cost increases for CUNY’s mandatory needs. His plan assumes a $300 tuition hike that many CUNY students cannot afford, and leaves thousands of poor students ineligible for financial aid. To support opportunity for all New Yorkers, the Legislature should:
Fund CUNY’s unmet mandatory needs.
The Executive Budget leaves unfunded $35 million of the cost increase for mandatory needs requested by CUNY to fund inflationary increases in energy ($9.6million), rent ($3.7 million), and collective bargaining and non-personnel costs ($21.7 million) at the senior colleges. Public funding of CUNY’s mandatory needs is supposed to be part of the “Compact.” If these funds are not restored, more than half of the revenue from the tuition hike will go to fill the gaps, and CUNY students will be deprived of investments in academic advisement, student access and new full-time faculty.
Increase public support for CUNY senior colleges to hire new full –time faculty at CUNY.
CUNY has a profound shortage of full-time faculty because of years of public disinvestment and increased enrollment. With 267,000 students enrolled this fall, CUNY’s full-time faculty strength is only 7,150, and fulltime faculty teach less than half the classes at CUNY.CUNY requests $26.5 million to add full-time faculty to the senior colleges next year, but that money should come from the State, not from new tuition dollars. Fixing the full-time faculty crisis at CUNY with only tuition hike revenue is an economic injustice, and a failing strategy. Using tuition to end the shortage would place a CUNY education out of reach for many New York City residents.
Increase community college Base Aid to 2008-09 levels, and reject the Next Generation Job Linkage Program.
The Executive Budget emphasizes workforce development at community colleges to the exclusion of other important missions. Job training is critical, but it is only part of what community colleges do. Instead of using small gimmicky “bonuses” to “incentivize” workforce development and requiring worrisome partnerships with private industry, the State should increase community college Base Aid to 2008-09 levels, which would require adding $593 per FTE student after adjusting for inflation. While we support CUNY’s request for a $260 per FTE student increase, it is a small down payment compared to the funding needs of CUNY community colleges.
Pass the NY Dream Act and make other TAP reforms to increase access for low-income students.
Undocumented students, most part-time students and students who have exceeded the program’s 4/8 semester limits cannot receive TAP, and financially independent students without dependents receive inadequate TAP awards. By passing the NY Dream Act (Campaign page)and fixing TAP in other ways the Legislature can make a CUNY education possible for thousands more low-income students. Reform of the current tuition discounting policy is also needed to protect student access without reducing CUNY’s resources.
Fund CUNY’s capital budget request.
Students learn more, and faculty and staff are more productive when they have modern equipment, decent facilities and a safe, healthy learning/working environment. The Legislature should support CUNY’s five- and ten-year capital requests starting with CUNY‘s 2013-14 funding needs for critical maintenance and construction, which includes $252 million for construction at the community colleges and $1.3 billion for construction at the senior colleges.