Testimony on the University Budget Request

Updated: December 16, 2019
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PSC officers, union members and student leaders testified about CUNY’s University Budget Request for academic year 2020-2021at a Board of Trustees hearing held December 9 at Lehman College.

Barbara Bowen, PSC President

At the hearing, President Barbara Bowen urged the Board to stake out a different position demanding full public funding for CUNY, no tuition and fee increases and a plan for adding the number of full-time faculty and counselors that CUNY actually needs. “The PSC urges you to submit a budget request worthy of the urgency students, staff and faculty feel about CUNY, one that has the courage to demand—and secure—the public investment CUNY needs,” she testified. Read President Bowen's full testimony.

Nivedita Majumdar, PSC Secretary

The university’s budget request remains starkly incommensurate with the needs on our campuses. You make a request for only 10% of the TAP gap, and yet, filling this structural gap is bleeding college budgets. At my campus, John Jay, the cost is close to 8 million, at Hunter, nearly 8.5 million, at CSI, nearly 5.5 million and so forth. These are dollars that should have gone into expanding programs, hiring support staff, and a genuine investment in student wellness. Read Nivedita Majumdar's full testimony.

Mike Fabricant, PSC Legislative Director

"There is a changing culture in Albany which is just beginning to press for greater investment in public agencies, including public higher education. Senator Andrew Gounardes, for example, has proposed a constitutional amendment to assure a free and well-funded public higher education system in NYS. Other senators and assembly-people are working on legislation entitled a New Deal for CUNY. It would reset the bar for investment in faculty, student support staff, free tuition and capitol maintenance, as well as construction. Finally, a number of legislators are exploring dedicated lines of tax revenue to be invested in public higher education. This recent wave of legislators and legislation are new, just and aspirational. CUNY must be engaged in a public discourse about what CUNY needs, not simply accept the constraints of austerity financing." Read Mike Fabricant's full testimony.

Robert Farrell, Chapter Chair, Lehman College

"Many of us were hoping for a creative new call from this administration for a reimagined approach to public investment in CUNY. Maybe a New Deal for CUNY. This budget doesn’t even call for fully eliminating the TAP Gap...I’m leaving a copy of New York City Public Advocate Jumanee Williams’ recent report on CUNY, NYPIRG’s report on student tuition and two recent reports on homelessness and hunger among CUNY students with my testimony." Read Robert Farrell's full testimony.

Sharon Utakis, Chapter Chair, Bronx Community College

"Over the years I have been at BCC, I have seen the effects of austerity...BCC has a beautiful campus, but there are a lot of problems: leaky roofs, broken bathrooms, and rodent and insect infestations. Last year, as you may remember, there was a problem with a water pump in one of the buildings on campus, Colston Hall, where my department and my office are. Water collected in pipes, the pipes froze, and then when the heat came back on, the pipes burst. Not just one pipe, but several pipes throughout the building! As a result, there was extensive flooding in several places. When the semester started a few days later, over 500 classes had to be relocated, along with many department and faculty offices. It took weeks for the building to be reopened. This was an incredibly disruptive event, which I’m sure had a negative effect on our retention of students. And one of the things that came out in an engineer’s report was that the heating coils that burst had been installed in 1984, but had a life expectancy of 20 years, which means that they were 15 years out of date! Read Sharon Utakis's full testimony.