By GREGORY N. HEIRES
Albany legislators are divided over the state budget plan to cut $485 million in funding for the City University of New York and pass along that responsibility to New York City.
On March 14, Senate Republicans approved a resolution that backs Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan to shift one third of the state’s CUNY costs to the city. The change would end the state’s decades-long commitment to fully fund senior colleges.
The Democratic-controlled state Assembly approved a resolution to restore the nearly half- billion dollar cut to the city’s university system. The Assembly resolution also demands a two-year freeze on tuition. The proposed executive budget increases tuition by $1,500 over the next five years—on top of annual tuition increases in the preceding five years.
In a statement, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said, “The Assembly majority has always believed that investing in our children’s academic success is the best investment we can make for the future of New York’s families and communities.” He added, “This year, we strengthen our promise to ensure that an affordable college education is within reach of every student and family in our state.”
Meanwhile, DC 37 is busy in Albany lobbying legislators to restore the funds. DC 37 represents 10,000 workers at CUNY.
This weekend, the union plans to distribute information about the CUNY crisis at the annual Somos El Futuro conference, which is sponsored by Latino state legislators. Activists will also encourage conference participants to sign a petition against the cuts. To call for the state to provide ample funding for CUNY, click here.
On March 10, about 1,500 protesters demonstrated outside the governor’s midtown Manhattan office to demand proper funding for CUNY and new contracts for its employees. The weekend before the demonstration, about 20 DC 37 members attended a training session at union headquarters about the contract campaign and building a network of activists on CUNY campuses.
In February, the Assembly Puerto Rican and Hispanic Task Force wrote Speaker Heastie expressing concerns about CUNY funding. The letter said that “CUNY needs to remain whole, with sufficient State funding to assure a quality education to all students; the $485 million that the Governor called on New York City to assume must be funded.”
Also, during a hearing in Albany that same month, state Sen. Liz Krueger asked CUNY Chancellor James Milliken how the higher education system would be affected if the $485 million cut went through.
“Numerous colleges, depending on how you did this, would have to be closed, or you’d take a 30 percent decrease across the entire system,” Milliken said. “I can’t even imagine how devastating that kind of a reduction would be.”