Tell Your Legislators to Close the TAP Gap
The enacted State budget failed to close the TAP Gap—a shortfall of millions of dollars at each CUNY senior college caused by the tuition colleges must waive for students receiving TAP awards. But Assemblymember Deborah Glick and Senator Toby Ann Stavisky, the higher education chairs, are working now to pass stand-alone legislation to begin to close the gap, which will amount to $86 million at CUNY next year. You can help by sending this letter to your representatives in Albany.
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As we celebrate the CUNY Class of 2019, please help to make sure that the next generation of CUNY students has the resources they need for a great education. Send this letter calling on the Governor and the Mayor to fund better conditions for students, competitive salaries for faculty and staff, and an end to near-poverty wages for adjunct faculty. Tell New York to fund quality education and wage justice at CUNY.
Barbara Bowen, PSC President
This legislative session, PSC members delivered 13,000 messages to legislators in Albany demanding fair funding for CUNY. Members rallied in the Capitol, at the Governor’s Office, on CUNY campuses, and in the streets of New York. I applaud their commitment to our students. Together with CUNY students, the members of the PSC suffer daily the consequences of the State’s policy of underinvestment in CUNY: academic departments cutting course offerings, college libraries cutting hours, and adjunct faculty continuing to be paid poverty wages.
CUNY is Losing $74 Million this Year Because State Law Leaves Colleges on the Hook for Financial Aid that NYS Should Cover
Students and faculty rallied with state legislators in the Capitol today calling for increased investments at the State University of New York and the City University of New York.
On the Capitol’s Million Dollar Staircase, student government leaders, union officers, and over 100 student activists from NYPIRG, SUNY Student Assembly and the Educational Opportunity Program, rallied for public funding—not tuition increases—to improve the quality of public education. Together with members of the Assembly and Senate Higher Education Committees, they called on the Legislature and the Governor to close a growing gap in college revenues caused by a flaw in the laws governing TAP, the state Tuition Assistance Program.
“SUNY and CUNY are recognized by millions of New Yorkers as an essential pathway to the middle class. Despite their important mission, the current funding model unwisely penalizes these institutions for educating students who receive the maximum TAP award. By closing the TAP Gap, we can make certain that SUNY and CUNY remain as world-class higher education institutions for the next generation of students. We must take action to close the TAP Gap immediately,” said Assembly Higher Education Committee Chair Deborah J. Glick.
On February 12, 60 PSC members—full-time faculty, adjuncts, CLTs and HEOs—traveled to Albany urging legislators to fix the State’s broken funding model for CUNY and fund our contract. They were there as part of a statewide Higher Education Advocacy Day cosponsored by NYSUT, the PSC, and United University Professions. Click here to download the policy agenda for the FY2020 State budget they delivered to legislators.
The main Senate switchboard phone number is 518-455-2800. Ask to speak to your State Senator (find him or her here.) Tell them: CUNY is cannibalizing itself to cover unfunded costs, and students feel the cuts in their classrooms, counseling centers and elsewhere. CUNY needs much more than what is currently on the table in Albany to end the crisis and protect quality education. Tell your Senator to start by filling the TAP Gap at CUNY. The Gap cost CUNY colleges $74 million this year alone.
PSC To Legislators: Fully Fund CUNY, Fund Competitive Salaries and 7K for Adjuncts
PSC officers were in Albany Monday, January 28 to testify before a joint hearing of the State Senate and Assembly finance committees on the Executive Budget for higher education. PSC President Barbara Bowen, in her testimony, said, “Despite the claims that State funding for higher education has increased, real per-student spending at CUNY senior colleges has gone down...CUNY needs funding to support its current collective bargaining agreement without cannibalizing itself, and it needs funding to support wage justice and educational justice in the next contract.”
To the newly elected legislators, the new Senate majority members, and the long-time supporters of public higher education in the Legislature, Bowen urged: “Make funding for quality public higher education a top priority. Make class size, course availability, teaching conditions and learning conditions as much an issue of economic and racial justice as financial aid…Put your energy, your imaginations, your power behind CUNY’s ability to transform individual lives and lift communities out of poverty.”
There is no CUNY without the work we do.
Dozens of PSC members testified about CUNY’s inadequate draft budget request for Fiscal Year 2020 at a last-minute Board of Trustees hearing on Wednesday, January 9. The trustees’ request does not call for full funding for our contract by New York State, does not name an acceptable level of funding for the new teaching load reduction, and never mentions the word “adjunct.” Instead, it boasts about programs whose success is entirely dependent on our labor but makes only vague references to how the funding for our contract will be resolved.
The conditions described by faculty, staff and students at the hearing are indefensible. Adjuncts spoke about hundreds of hours of unpaid work, about losing their health, about being evicted because of their near-poverty pay. Full-time faculty described the damage done to the colleges by the lack of public funding. The PSC called on the CUNY Board to stop accepting poverty funding for CUNY and instead to demand the funding the University needs.
Joint Budget Hearing for Higher Education
Monday, January 28, Albany
Legislators on the Senate Finance and Assembly Ways and Means committees and their colleagues on the Higher Education committees will hear testimony on the Governor's Executive Budget for higher education at a hearing in the State Legislative Office Building in Albany starting at 11 AM on Monday, January 28. A team of union activists will travel via train to attend the hearing, which may run until 5 PM. The activists will be there to distribute fliers to the hundreds of hearing attendees and to hold signs for lawmakers and TV cameras to see. PSC officers will testify in the mid-afternoon on a labor panel alongside leaders from NYSUT and United University Professions. The CUNY administration will testify early in the hearing. Student activists and PSC allies from the CUNY University Student Senate and the New York Public Interest Research Group will also testify toward the end of the hearing. Contact Tiffany Brown (email@example.com) if you'd like to be one of the activists who attends the hearing. Video of the PSC testimony will be posted online and emailed to union members, along with opportunities to contact your representatives in Albany.
The CUNY Board of Trustees finally released CUNY’s draft budget request for State and City funding last week, only days before Governor Cuomo is expected to announce his executive budget for next year. The trustees’ request does not call for full funding for our contract by New York State, does not name an acceptable level of funding for the new teaching load reduction, and never mentions the word “adjunct.” Instead, it boasts about programs whose success is entirely dependent on our labor but makes only vague references to how the funding for our contract will be resolved (see pages 5 and 17).
The CUNY Board must hear from us about why their request is unacceptable. They are holding a last-minute hearing this Wednesday, January 9, at the Manhattan campus of BMCC, starting at 4:30. I am asking you to change your plans for Wednesday afternoon and be there to speak. There is no need for elaborate testimony; just speak from your experience about what CUNY needs and what you need to do your job.
The union will be taking our campaign directly to Albany in February and March, but the start of that campaign is here at CUNY this Wednesday. We cannot let up on the pressure now; January 9 is also the first day of the legislative session in Albany, and the message we send by testifying will reach far beyond the hearing room. We will also be issuing a collective message to Albany, City Hall and any potential candidates for the CUNY chancellor position.
The Maintenance of Effort bill has been vetoed, despite having passed both houses of the Legislature with overwhelming bipartisan support. The bill won widespread support because it would have ensured that the state’s public universities, CUNY and SUNY, receive funding to cover mandatory costs such as rent and electricity increases, negotiated salary agreements, and the difference between the highest TAP award and the actual cost of tuition.
Without such funding in place, CUNY has been forced to cannibalize its own inadequate budget and increase the amount students pay in tuition and fees in order to cover costs that should be publicly funded. CUNY colleges have cut back on academic courses and computer support, reduced library hours, shortchanged student services and increased their reliance on adjunct faculty, who are paid a near-poverty wage.
A progressive state should provide the funding necessary to maintain high-quality college education at its public universities. The PSC is grateful to the legislators who championed the bill, and we will work with the Legislature and the Governor during the budget process to make 2019 the year in which CUNY is fully funded.
Albany—President Barbara Bowen urged the State to increase funding for CUNY in testimony delivered Wednesday, December 5 to the Assembly Higher Education Committee. She also called on the governor to sign legislation soon to be before him that would enhance the State’s Maintenance of Effort (MOE) for CUNY and SUNY.
“The City University of New York is reaching a breaking point—in large part because the normal costs of doing business are not covered in the State’s annual budget allocation to the University. The current funding model for CUNY, even with the present MOE in place, is unsustainable. It forces the University either to cut existing academic programs to make up for the budget shortfall or to rely on huge numbers of low-wage workers as instructors or to escalate the pace of tuition and fee increases (thereby also enlarging the unfunded TAP gap) simply to stay afloat. In the absence of a full MOE, CUNY is being forced to cannibalize its own inadequate budget to cover costs that should be automatically funded by New York State,” she testified. Read the full testimony here.