The enacted City budget for CUNY for Fiscal Year 2022 includes critically needed improvements over the Executive Budget: the Mayor’s $10 million cut to ASAP was eliminated, $6.5 million was allocated for a job training and placement program that will benefit 1,000 CUNY students, and $4 million was set aside for scholarships for Black and low-income CUNY students. Additionally, the Council restored cuts from Fiscal Year 2021 by allocating $1.7 million for remediation programs, $875,000 for food insecurity programs and $600,000 for childcare (an increase from $510,000). The Council also funded other important initiatives, including $4.5 million for CUNY research institutes and $1.5 million for the CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies. We thank the City Council for funding these programs and congratulate the student and community allies, candidates for City office and council members who campaigned with the PSC for them. But these programmatic victories are only part of the story.
The budget reduces CUNY’s allocation by $67 million, leaving the University to backfill the cut with Federal stimulus money in FY 2022. Advocacy by the PSC, our coalition partners and allies in City government helped secure a provision in the budget that prevents this cut from becoming permanent. But it still represents a one-year loss of sorely needed revenue.
Congress intended this one-time pandemic aid to CUNY to protect the health of a half-million students and 40,000 workers in 300 buildings. The PSC has advocated that it be used to offset lost tuition revenues and to rehire 2,000 laid-off adjuncts. Now $67 million must also be used to offset the shortfall in City investment.
After using the stimulus as pretext to reduce CUNY’s funding for a year, City leaders now have an obligation to ensure transparency from CUNY. The Mayor and the Council should join the PSC in calling on CUNY to release a plan to use the stimulus to restore the full $67 million, rehire adjuncts to staff additional course offerings, and protect health and safety on campus.
The PSC wanted much more out of this budget—full restoration of CUNY’s baseline budget without cutting into CUNY’s stimulus, funding to offset tuition losses from COVID-year enrollment declines, additional baseline funding to support the New Deal for CUNY. The stimulus money will offset the City cut, and it can be used to repair the damage done to CUNY during the pandemic, but CUNY needs increased annual funding from the City to repair the damage done during decades of racist austerity. We have a fight ahead of us to make our vision of CUNY a reality.
With 26 of the PSC’s endorsed candidates winning or leading in their city primary elections, a growing coalition of student and community groups on our side and a growing political and legislative operation, the PSC is well positioned to win that fight. A truly radical investment in CUNY and the mostly low-income, mostly Black and brown students that CUNY serves is within our reach.