The Professional Staff Congress/CUNY (PSC/CUNY), the union that represents the 30,000 professional staff and faculty at the City University of New York, released a digital ad Jan. 24 urging New Yorkers to contact their lawmakers to support the New Deal for CUNY (ND4C) legislation.
The bill (S4461/A5843) proposes a return to tuition-free instruction at CUNY schools, as well as setting minimum staff-to-student ratios among other benefits.
The ND4C legislation was introduced by Senator Andrew Gounardes and Assembly Member Karines Reyes, is currently supported by some of New York’s most prominent labor leaders and the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic, and Asian Legislative Caucus. The bill intends to reverse the decades of decreased investment into the CUNY system by implementing a $1.7 billion five year plan.
“Free, well-funded high quality public higher education for the public college students of New York City is within our reach,” said Professional Staff Congress President James Davis. “Our union members are excited to mobilize around the vision for the New Deal for CUNY and eager to work with our coalition partners and elected officials to make it a reality.”
The release of the ad follows Governor Kathy Hochul’s Executive Budget for the state of New York, where she announced plans to scale up SUNY and CUNY funding. Hochul’s budget proposal allocates $170 million in funding to CUNY senior colleges without increasing tuition, and also an additional $53 million to hire new full-time staff and faculty.
However, according to PSC/CUNY, this proposed budget doesn’t fully satisfy the needs of CUNY institutions.
“CUNY needs all the investments provided in the Governor’s budget – and much more!” read the press release issued Monday by PSC/CUNY. “[Hochul’s] Executive Budget is a decisive rejection of the state’s pattern of austerity funding for CUNY. CUNY, however, identified $313 million in needed state investments in the University Budget Request. The PSC and their CUNY Rising Alliance partners are calling on the Legislature and the Governor to build on the Executive Budget by funding the full $313 million and passing the New Deal for CUNY.”
PSC/CUNY also argued that since CUNY students make strong economic and social contributions to New York, investing in CUNY growth and accessibility will increase enrollment and therefore bolster the state and city’s economic standing – especially following the hit caused by the pandemic.
An analysis conducted by the NYC Comptroller’s office in 2021 showed that in the 2019 fiscal year, nearly 80% of CUNY graduates remained in New York State and contributed $4 billion in taxes. Additionally, a report by the Brooking Institute confirmed that CUNY is one of the top drivers of economic growth and mobility in the nation.
The ad, which will run on social media platforms for several weeks highlights the benefits of supporting the CUNY system and how it will improve communities.
“CUNY has been the bedrock of so many New Yorkers’ futures – for students of color, working families and immigrants,” the ad said. “We are asking for a quality education for all.”