PSC rallies against de Blasio’s plan to cut $77M from CUNY



Jahlil Rush, Production Assistant

CUNY students, City Council members and other CUNY representatives joined forces to combat Mayor Bill de Blasio’s executive budget that would decrease CUNY’s funding.

According to the Professional Staff Congress, the CUNY staff and faculty union,  de Blasio’s executive budget would cut city funding from CUNY community colleges by $77 million, eliminating funds necessary for providing academic and mental health services.

De Blasio’s $98.5 billion budget would cut city funding for tutoring services and service corps. It also leaves out funding for initiatives funded by the Council for remediation services, childcare and programs that combat food insecurity.

The executive budget documents a $77 million cut to CUNY. However, CUNY Chancellor Félix Matos Rodríguez and representatives of de Blasio have agreed that $10 million in Accelerated Study in Associate Programs funding will be restored, according to PSC.

PSC President Barbara Bowen called the funding cuts “inexplicable” while also noting that the federal aid CUNY received during the pandemic is not enough.

“Despite the influx of federal stimulus funds, the Executive Budget repeats almost all the cuts to CUNY the Mayor proposed back in January, when the City’s budget picture was much bleaker than it is now,” she said.

PSC wrote a letter to de Blasio, pleading with him to reconsider his stance on cutting funding to CUNY community colleges.

“We are writing as community college leaders of the Professional Staff Congress (PSC/CUNY) to ask that you recommit to supporting CUNY’s community college students in the upcoming budget,” PSC said in their letter. “Your Executive Budget calls for devastating cuts that will leave our community colleges unable to provide the neediest and least prepared students in New York City with the education they deserve.”

Many others voiced their frustration at de Blasio’s plans for CUNY, including CUNY Rising Alliance Campaign Director Remysell Salas, who acknowledged how vulnerable CUNY students are.

“CUNY students are some of the most vulnerable members of the working class,” he said. “When Mayor Bill de Blasio proposes significant cuts to CUNY, he is proposing to leave behind the most vulnerable members of the working class in New York. We need to restore the cuts proposed by Mayor Bill de Blasio for this year and last year’s budget, provide an additional $40 million to hold community college budgets harmless from recent enrollment dips and freezes tuition at community colleges, and provide $20.4 million in new investment to help the University begin to meet the minimum ratios of mental health counselors, academic advisors and full-time faculty to students that are required in the New Deal for CUNY.”

Council Member Brad Lander said that the cuts to CUNY were “appalling.”

“The Mayor has a $200 million increase to the NYPD in his budget, yet proposed cuts to CUNY,” he said. “This is appalling because CUNY is the future of NYC, nothing is more important than educating our young people.”

Council Members Inez Barron, the chair of Committee on Higher Education, and I. Daneek Miller, the chair of Committee on Civil Service and Labor, wrote an op-ed in Bklyner.

It was written in support of the New Deal for CUNY, a piece of legislation that calls for tuition free education for in-state students and a restoration in CUNY infrastructure.

“The New Deal for CUNY would begin to establish appropriate ratios of mental health counselors, academic advisors, and full-time faculty to students, all of which are critical for retention and graduation,” Barron and Miller wrote. “It would also ease the tuition burden and move CUNY closer to the tuition-free model that prevailed for more than a century.”

PSC is calling for de Blasio to support allocating $77.3 million for a one-time reinvestment for the 2021 fiscal year’s budget restorations.

It is also asking for $23.8 million to cover losses in tuition brought upon by the COVID-19 pandemic and $20.4 million to cover the cost of the first year for New Deal for CUNY investment.

“CUNY’s community colleges represent an opportunity for a better life for low-income New Yorkers, people of color, and immigrants,” a PSC spokesperson told The Ticker. “They serve the communities hit hardest by COVID and the recession. If we are committed to an anti-racist economic recovery that benefits all New Yorkers, new investment in CUNY is essential.”

There will be a CUNY Rising rally against the budget cuts at City Hall on June 24.

“NYC should be increasing funding for CUNY, not cutting funding for community colleges that could be used to fill empty staff lines when students need increased support services and smaller classes,” PSC said.