March 9, 2011
Critical action on the New York State budget will be taken this week. The State Senate and Assembly will issue their responses to the Governor’s budget—including their positions on whether to raise revenue and whether to accept the Governor’s multi-million dollar cuts to CUNY.
This week is our chance to make sure that the final budget deliberations include at least a discussion of progressive sources of revenue and restoration of CUNY funding. If those positions are not included now, they will not be part of the final budget deliberations.
We can make a difference. One legislative leader told me yesterday that if ten percent of CUNY faculty, staff and students sent messages to the Legislature, the entire conversation in Albany would change. I am setting that as a goal—that ten percent of PSC members send a message to Albany. You can send your message right now by simply typing in your name and address here.
What’s at stake is nearly $100 million in further cuts to the senior colleges, and a 10% cut to the State funding for community colleges. Anyone who works at CUNY knows how those cuts would hurt an already wounded university.
But something else is at stake this time: the premise that the middle class, the working class and the poor should endure economic austerity to solve a crisis caused by the excesses of the rich. That’s the battle in Wisconsin, that’s the battle in Ohio and it’s the battle here. Governor Cuomo has refused a multi-billion-dollar source of revenue for the State—the extension of the current tax surcharge on the highest incomes—yet he demands cuts from CUNY, from school children, the elderly and the poor. By insisting on an alternative to that scenario, we are standing up for economic justice, and standing up for ourselves. The same austerity agenda is directed at public employees, and will be part of the challenge we face in contract negotiations.
Surely ten percent of us can take 30 seconds and send a message in response. Your message needs to be in by this weekend.
I’ll let you know if we reach our goal. And please invite your students to send a message too; they’re welcome to use the letter on our website.