City pols rally against proposed CUNY budget cuts


With the deadline for the city’s proposed Fiscal Year 2022 budget a week away, a number of elected officials joined the City University of New York (CUNY) Rising Alliance in a rally outside City Hall Thursday to voice their opposition to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Executive Budget that would cut $67 million from the budget in CUNY funding.

The cuts come despite de Blasio’s record $98.6 billion city spending plan. It slashes CUNY’s remediation services, child care to students, tutoring and food insecurity programs, according to the Alliance.

“CUNY- the people’s university serves as a lifeline for many of New York’s most vulnerable communities, yet the Mayor is currently proposing to slash $67 million of dollars that would disproportionately affect communities of color,” said CUNY Rising Alliance Campaign Director Remysell Salas. “It’s unjust and perplexing that a Mayor would end his legacy with his final budget with cuts that would immediately affect most New Yorkers at large.”

Among the elected officials joining in at the rally included Assembly Member Karines Reyes (D-Bronx), prime sponsor of the New Deal for CUNY in the state’s lower chamber.

The proposed legislation includes three main goals that deal with CUNY’s funding, spending, staffing, and campuses. After five years, the measure would make CUNY tuition-free for all New Yorkers.

“In its current state, CUNY is significantly underfunded and lacks the necessary resources to provide for its students,” said Reyes. “A $67 million cut to CUNY is reckless and could lead to the devastation of a system that has already been operating at a critical point for years. The Mayor’s proposal is ill-advised. He must amend the proposal and submit a fair and equitable budget immediately.”

Public Advocate Jumaane Williams said the path through the compounding crises the city is now facing lies in investment, not austerity. 

“As a two-time CUNY alumnus, I have seen and experienced the power of a CUNY education, and it’s crucial to invest in the supports, programs, and resources that make these opportunities accessible for all New Yorkers,” said Williams.

City Councilmembers Antonio Reynoso (D-Brooklyn) and Vanessa L. Gibson (D-Bronx) indicated they will not vote to approve the final city budget if the cuts are not restored.

“CUNY is a critical driver of economic mobility in the City of New York and the dollars we direct toward supporting this work is an investment in the future of some of our most vulnerable New Yorkers,” said Reynoso. “This investment is even more important as we work to close the education gap that widened during the pandemic. I will be working closely with my colleagues in the Council to ensure CUNY is fully-funded so that our students and educators have the resources they need to be successful.”

Gibson said the cuts to CUNY would disproportionately affect communities of color and low-income New Yorkers. 

“Education is the gateway to success for many New Yorkers but the proposed cuts to CUNY in the Executive Budget would prevent those communities hardest hit by the pandemic from accessing vital resources to becoming academically successful,” Gibson said.

“I join with my colleagues and the thousands of CUNY faculty, staff and advocates in calling on the administration to support a New Deal for CUNY that would ensure students have the academic advisors, mental health counselors and other resources available that invests not only financially in our students but also in their health and well-being.” she added.

The budget must be passed before June 30 as the next fiscal year begins on July 1. The City Council is currently negotiating the budget.