State Budget Campaign 2015

Updated: December 2, 2015
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Keep the Promise of CUNY. Invest in Opportunity for All. 2015 State budget platform and fact sheet

Calling On the Governor To Sign the Bill To Strengthen CUNY

Student and faculty leaders gathered at sites throughout the state on Wednesday, July 22 to stress the importance of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s signing “Maintenance of Effort” (M.O.E.) legislation that would improve the quality of public higher education in New York. At Baruch College, CUNY students were joined by their professors, labor leaders, and Assemblymember Deborah J. Glick, the Assembly sponsor of the bill, which passed with bipartisan, near-unanimous support. Read more.

UPDATE: The Senate Passed 281A on June 18

A message from President Bowen: Thank you, PSC members! The bill on future funding for CUNY passed in the NYS Senate late last night. There is no doubt that the reason it moved out of committee and onto the Senate floor for a full vote was that the PSC, together with our allies, gave it a strong final push. You sent 6,407 messages to the Senate just in the past six days. And that effort was only the final phase of a legislative campaign that has spanned many months. Congratulations to everyone who met with legislators in Albany or their districts, who made calls or sent letters or otherwise made your voices heard. This is your victory. And special thanks to the CUNY graduates who recorded radio ads for the PSC. The bill, A5370a/S281a, requires the State to allocate funding to CUNY in the annual budget at a level sufficient to cover mandatory cost increases, including contractual raises. It covers only future years, not retroactive pay, so we will continue our fight on that front, but it is a huge step forward. The bill is not law until it is signed by the Governor, and bills are sent to him for signature throughout the summer. We will keep you posted. Critical and organized as our campaign was, we did not accomplish this alone. I want to thank the PSC's terrific legislative staff, the other PSC officers and former officers, our statewide affiliate NYSUT—which dedicated significant resources to this fight—and the CUNY administration, which strongly supported the bill. But the biggest thanks go to you, the active members of the PSC. I cannot celebrate our victory today without being conscious of the sickening mass murder in Charleston's Emanuel AME Church and the persistence of murderous racism. For many of us, working at CUNY is part of a larger anti-racist commitment. The PSC will send a contribution to the church community and will rededicate itself to racial and educational justice. In solidarity, Barbara Bowen President, PSC/CUNY

Tell the Senate to Pass 281a, a Bill to Improve CUNY Funding

Albany is close to passing a bill critical for CUNY’s future. Please send a letter right now to give it the grassroots push it needs to become law. On Wednesday, June 9 the State Assembly passed A5370a, an act that would provide future funding for the PSC contract and ensure that tuition hikes go to improve education, not to cover unfunded mandatory university operating expenses. The Senate version of the bill, S281a, has cleared the Higher Education Committee, but as of Thursday, June 10 has yet to clear the Senate Finance Committee. A5370a/S281a keeps the promise made to students in 2011 when lawmakers enacted five years of annual $300 tuition hikes. The hikes were supposed to fund additional faculty, course-offerings and student services for CUNY and SUNY. But the State has not funded routine inflationary cost increases for rent, utilities, supplies and equipment, and regular university expenses for fringe benefits and contractual salary steps.Without adequate State funding, CUNY has used tuition-hike dollars to cover the gap rather than improve education. A5370a/S281a would make it harder for the State to underfund CUNY by strengthening and making permanent the State’s “Maintenance of Effort” provisions for CUNY and SUNY. Send a letter today [the letter campaign is over]. And ask your colleagues to do the same.

Help Win a Fair Contract: Sign up for NYC-Based Lobby Visits

There is still time in this legislative session for the State Legislature to fund a PSC-CUNY contract with retroactive pay. And there is still time for CUNY allies on the City Council to add their political support to our contract fight. But lawmakers at the city and state level need to know that the contract is a priority for their constituents, and they need to understand how five years without a PSC-CUNY contract hurts the CUNY students who live in their districts. You can help them understand by joining your PSC colleagues at visits to NYC district offices being scheduled with City and State lawmakers throughout the months of May and June. To get involved, email your name and address to Amanda Magalhaes (amagalhaes@pscmail.org), and tell her what times you’re available on Fridays in May and June. (We’re attempting to schedule most visits on Fridays, but some may be scheduled for other days of the week.)

The State Budget for 2015-16

The Governor and State Legislature failed to include the union’s two priorities in this year’s State budget negotiations: increasing State funding by $63 million to cover mandatory cost increases including collective bargaining, and securing $240 million in a one-time human infrastructure investment from the bank settlement funds for retroactive pay. However, we made progress in bringing the issue to the Legislature and will continue to advocate with elected officials for their support through the end of the session in June. So, plan to be busy. There are some bright spots in the final budget:
  • increased funding for CUNY senior colleges ($12 million tied to creation of a required performance plan, but passed without an originally proposed 10% funding penalty);
  • $100 per-FTE increase in Base Aid to community colleges ($6.1 million for CUNY);
  • increases for opportunity programs, SEEK ($3.9 million) and College Discovery ($0.2 million);
  • restoration of ASAP’s State funding ($1.7 million), plus additional State funding for ASAP ($0.8 million);
  • restoration of State funding for the Joseph Murphy Institute ($0.5 million); and
  • increased State funding for campus childcare ($0.4 million).
We also prevailed in stopping some onerous proposals including stopping the consolidation of CUNY’s back-office operations and performance-funding noted above.

PSC’s Contract-Focused Radio Ad Says: "It's Time for Albany to Believe in CUNY"

CUNY is a national leader in community college education—but the professors and advisors of CUNY are being denied a fair union contract. That's the message of the latest PSC radio ad, which is airing this week in the Capital District and New York City. Read more.

Tell Albany to keep its promises to CUNY students

Click this link to send an electronic letter to lawmakers demanding a better State budget for CUNY. The Executive Budget does nothing to restore years of underfunding for community colleges and doesn’t cover basic annual senior college cost increases for energy, rent, fringe benefits and collective bargaining increases. Tuition increases are going to cover basic operating costs instead of to improve education because Albany is failing to keep its promises to fund CUNY. Legislators need to hear from you about the challenges of teaching and working at our underfunded university. Send a letter today.

"We've kept our promises. Albany, it's time to keep yours."

The PSC is airing a radio ad in the Capital District and New York City urging Albany to honor CUNY’s legacy and keep its promises to students. In a release announcing the ad buy, PSC President Barbara Bowen said, "New Yorkers need to know the State is in danger of breaking an important promise to students and their families. Albany can keep its promise this year and fix the broken promises of the past by providing the full funding to CUNY.” The ad is titled Legacy and was produced by the firm Shorr Johnson Magnus Strategic Media. It honors notable CUNY alumni, such as polio vaccine inventor Jonas Salk and award-winning actor and civil rights leader Ruby Dee, and asks: will the next generation of CUNY students “get their chance to change the world?”

Students, Faculty and Staff to Lawmakers: No More Broken Promises

More than 300 students and dozens of faculty and staff from 28 colleges and universities traveled to Albany for the Student-Faculty-Staff Higher Education Action Day on February 26. A coalition of student groups (NYPIRG and CUNY USS) and academic unions (NYSUT, PSC/CUNY and UUP) organized the lobby day to demand that the State keep its promises to students and their families. Together, they called for a better State higher education budget that is less costly to students and more generous to public colleges and universities. In more than 120 meetings with legislators and staff, the groups urged lawmakers to reverse higher education cuts, to invest in CUNY and SUNY, and to reform and expand the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP). Read the Student-Faculty-Staff Higher Education Platform.

Advocacy Materials for the CUNY Budget Campaign

PSC members are making the case for CUNY using the PSC’s budget advocacy booklet, Keep the Promise of CUNY , and this fact sheet, which explains the union's budget platform and the State’s broken promise to provide stable funding for CUNY in exchange for tuition hikes.

PSC & CUNY to Albany: Fund A Contract with Raises!

Read PSC's State Budget Testimony

PSC President Barbara Bowen and CUNY Chancellor J.B. Milliken both testified about the need for Albany to fund a PSC-CUNY Contract with retroactive raises at a State budget hearing held yesterday in Albany. The union and management also urged the Legislature to fund “mandatory costs” for CUNY, which were not funded in the Governor’s Executive Budget plan for 2015-16. The unfunded mandatory costs from CUNY’s budget request include projected cost increases for energy, rent, fringe benefits and contractual salary step increases. CUNY’s need to hire new full-time faculty and support for the NYS Dream Act were also points of agreement between the two testimonies. The PSC also testified against the governor's ill-conceived plan for performance budgeting and unwarranted intrusions in faculty governance and teacher preparation programs. Read the union’s testimony and CUNY’s testimony. Download a factsheet about CUNY’s unfunded mandatory costs called Keep Albany’s Promise.

Governor Cuomo’s Anti-Public Education Budget

Gov. Andrew Cuomo's proposed budget for 2015-2016 lays out a punishing education agenda that endangers CUNY, attacks teachers and hurts students. It’s an austerity agenda that would decimate the state's public schools and colleges. Here are the details of the Governor’s budget:
  • provides no new funding to CUNY’s budget for increasing mandatory costs, forcing CUNY to use new revenues from a $300 tuition increase to pay for increases in the costs of energy, supplies and equipment, fringe benefits and labor;
  • withholds 10% of CUNY and SUNY senior college operating budgets to force the creation of a system that bases funding on performance instead of enrollment;
  • establishes 10% performance funding for community colleges wherein the performance targets are set based on the needs of local and regional employers;
  • woefully underfunds the state's K-12 and higher education systems;
  • undermines teacher preparation programs, leading to reduced diversity in teacher education and unsound standardization of teacher education curricula;
  • includes funding for the NY Dream Act, but requires that it can only pass if the Education Income Tax Credit is adopted (The EITC would provide state tax credits for donations to charter and religious schools.);
  • undermines job security for K-12 teachers by increasing the years necessary to receive tenure from three to five years and linking it to new evaluation system which would make students’ standardized test scores 50% of a teacher’s score; and
  • makes permanent an undemocratic tax cap that has wreaked financial havoc on local schools outside NYC.
PSC’s statewide affiliate, NYSUT, is launching an ad campaign and mobilizing a massive grassroots response to the governor’s attack on public education and professional educators. Visit the NYSUT campaign resource page for an activist’s tool kit, testimonials, and a list of 12 ways you can join the fight. The PSC’s website also includes pages to stay updated and engaged in the integrated campaigns to Defend Public Education and Safeguard Teacher Preparation.

Dates for the CUNY budget campaign

Every year, the PSC partners with our statewide affiliate, NYSUT, with our sister union at SUNY, United University Professions (UUP) and with student organizations, such as NYPIRG, to organize meetings with lawmakers in Albany and City Hall about the need to increase funding for CUNY, expand financial aid and pass legislation that supports the university community. Click here to sign up for one or more of the following dates:
  • NYSUT Higher Education Lobby Day (Albany): Wed., Feb. 25 - Thurs., Feb. 26. We will meet in Albany on Wed. evening for a dinner and briefing from NYSUT. Then on Thurs. we will have NYSUT-sponsored meetings with legislators in the morning and will be joined by NYPIRG and other student organizations for meetings in the afternoon.
  • NYSUT Committee of 100 (Albany): Mon., Mar. 2 - Tues., Mar. 3
  • CUNY at the Council (New York City): Wed., Apr. 29.
Download a save-the-date flier. Transportation, food and hotel costs for the NYSUT Higher Education Lobby Day (Feb. 25-26) and the NYSUT Committee of 100 (Mar. 2-3) are covered by NYSUT. Members can also ride back and forth to Albany in one day with students on the buses for the Thurs., Feb. 26 Student/Faculty/Staff Higher Ed Action Day. Contact Amanda Magalhaes (amagalhaes@pscmail.org) with questions.

CUNY's 2014-2015 Budget Request

A draft of the University Budget Request for FY 2015-2016 is posted here. In it CUNY requests a $135.7 million increase in total funding for senior colleges and a $68.5 million increase for community colleges. More than half of the new funding would come from tuition hikes; 29% would come in the form of new State Aid and 7% would be new City Support. Investments in new full-time faculty, online education, academic advising, and the Advanced Science Research Center are proposed in the budget request, along with extra funding for programs that promote student success.