Governor Andrew Cuomo’s State of the State Address/Executive Budget and What It Means for CUNY!

Dear Commons Community,

New York Governor Cuomo yesterday gave his state of the state address yesterday that includes highlights of his Executive Budget proposals.  The New York Times has an excellent summary.  However, Politico had an article last night that focused entirely on what the Governor’s budget proposals mean for the City University of New York.  The full text of the article appears below.  A critical element of the Governor’s budget is that a portion of state funding ($485 million) for CUNY senior colleges be assumed by the City of New York. This would undo four decades of full funding by the State of New York for the senior colleges.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out.  NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio might be amenable and will have the next move on this.  My sense is that it will not be an easy negotiation between the Governor, the Mayor, and the State Legislature.




CUNY cuts would fund union contracts under Cuomo budget!

By Conor Skelding

6:26 p.m. | Jan. 13, 2016

Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants to cut $485 million in state funding to the City University of New York and wants the city to make up the difference, according to his executive budget.

The state would then redirect $240 million from its cuts toward settling long-expired contracts with CUNY’s unions, per the plan.

Under the budget’s cost-sharing arrangement, the city would “pay a share of financial support that aligns with the City’s participation in the governance of CUNY.”

Under the state’s education law, the governor appoints 10 trustees to the CUNY board and the city five. But in fiscal year 2015’s adopted budget, the state provided $1.2 billion in operating funding to CUNY’s senior colleges, whereas the city paid only $32.3 million. (Tuition and other revenue accounted for $1 billion.)

That set-up “dates back to a time when New York City was experiencing a fiscal crisis,” according to Cuomo’s budget briefing book[].

“New York City is no longer in a fiscal crisis — it ended 2015 with a multi-billion dollar surplus and billions in reserves,” the book said. “Commensurate with the percentage of CUNY appointments, the Budget requires that the City of New York assume a 30 percent share of CUNY senior college net operating and debt service expenses, totaling $485 million in the 2016-17 City fiscal year.”

At a press conference Wednesday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said he anticipated having “some specific concern” with the arrangement but had not yet had time to “read the fine print.”

According to the governor’s briefing book, enacting the arrangement would let the state “provide $240 million from the General Fund to CUNY to support retroactive salary increases needed to ensure fair and affordable agreements with CUNY’s labor unions.”

Tens of thousands of faculty, professional staff and non-professional staff have worked for six years without a contract and five without a contractual raise.

“We welcome and hope to build on the Governor’s acknowledgement of the need to provide funding for retroactive raises for CUNY’s 25,000 faculty and staff — who have not had a raise in six years — but are alarmed at what appears to be a massive funding cut,” Professional Staff Congress president Barbara Bowen said in a statement. “We look forward to working constructively with the governor and the Legislature in the coming weeks to restore full funding for CUNY and enable the resolution of our contract.”

Rudy Orozco, a spokesman for DC37, which also represents many CUNY employees, said he would have a statement Thursday.

CUNY spokesman Mike Arena said in a statement, “We are deeply grateful for the support of both the state and the city.”

In his Wednesday address, Cuomo did mention the plan, placed last in the higher education section of the briefing book.

His budget also gives the trustees of CUNY and SUNY the authority to keep raising tuition year by year, as they requested.

The so-called “rational” or “predictable” tuition plans had allowed for five years of $300 increases since 2011. Cuomo’s budget would extend that authority for another five years. (In-state tuition at SUNY and CUNY is currently just under $6,500. It has risen by $1,500 since 2011.)

“Additional revenue generated by any tuition increase could need to be put in a ‘lockbox’ to support faculty, improve instruction and provide tuition credits for TAP-eligible students,” the book said.

The budget also extends state Tuition Assistance Program grants to undocumented students. Currently, they are open only to citizens.

It also expands performance funding at CUNY and SUNY and provides $15 million for a clean energy workforce development program at SUNY, $5 million for apprenticeships at SUNY and $1.5 million to increase services at community colleges.

In a statement, SUNY chancellor Nancy Zimpher said Cuomo had proposed “an ambitious education agenda.”

His budget does not include “maintenance of effort,” which would require that the state guarantee certain annual increases such as collective bargaining costs, rent and utilities.

SUNY Student Assembly president Tom Mastro said in a statement he was “disappointed” the governor did not include that provision.

“When the Governor vetoed the state support bill passed by the legislature, he made it clear that it would be revisited during budget negotiations. Well, we’re ready to talk,” he said.




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