Saving CUNY: Fighting the Good Fight – We Need You to Join the Fight

James Madison, in a single brief sentence defines politics, ambition counteracting ambition, In Federalist 51 Madison wrote,

Ambition must be made to counteract ambition. The interest of the man must be connected with the constitutional rights of the place. It may be a reflection on human nature, that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government. But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.

Each year the two houses of the state legislature, the governor and hordes of advocates battle over the size and scope of the state budget.

The state constitution grants the governor wide discretion, the budget must be balanced, expenses must be balanced against revenues, the governor sets the size of the budget and the governor proposes an executive budget. 

“…the governor shall submit to the legislature a budget containing a complete plan of expenditures proposed to be made before the close of the ensuing fiscal year and all moneys and revenues estimated to be available therefor, together with an explanation of the basis of such estimates and recommendations as to proposed legislation, if any, which the governor may deem necessary to provide moneys and revenues sufficient to meet such proposed expenditures. It shall also contain such other recommendations and information as the governor may deem proper and such additional information as may be required by law.” — New York State Constitution, Article VII, Section 2

In early January the governor released the executive budget (Read here) and a few weeks later the Ways and Means Committee of the Assembly, the “Yellow Book,” a more simplified explanation of the budget.

Last week joint meetings of committee members of the state legislative listened to testimony from various divisions of the state, including John King, the Chancellor of SUNY and Felix Matos-Rodriquez, the Chancellor of CUNY.

The week of March 13th both houses of the legislature will issue “one-house” budgets, and intense negotiations will occur. The “3 Men in a Room,” now one man, Carl Heastie, Speaker of the Assembly, Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Majority Leader of the Senate and the Governor, with input from key committee chairs, will negotiate a budget and early in the morning of April 1, the legislature will begin to vote on the 23-24 budget.

The Higher Education budget, for unfathomable reasons, increased CUNY and SUNY tuition by 3% and other reductions- as a result CUNY is planning on a 5% cut in their 23-24 budget resulting in reductions in courses, staff, larger class sizes, and programs.

Over 1400 colleges are ranked by social mobility, colleges which move students from entering in poverty and entering the middle class within a decade of graduation, CUNY schools top the national list.  (See social mobility report here). Our CUNY colleges, 25 community and four year colleges are a key component in making NYC a world class city.

The future of our city, state and nation will be determined by our current college students. CUNY was free until fiscal crisis of 1975 and tuition has been increasing year by year

In the fall a coalition of advocacy organizations, the CUNY Rising Alliance, supported bills (“A New Deal for CUNY”) in the state legislature to make CUNY free again, the bills passed both house of the legislature and are NOT included in the governor’s budget (Read bills her)

What can we do to reverse the tuition increase and reductions in the proposed budget?

We can become citizen lobbyists and contact our Albany legislators.

Flooding e-mails boxes with letters demanding the governor and the legislators rescind tuition increases and funding cuts and move toward making CUNY free again.

The ambition of some to raise tuition and cuts budgets can be counteracted by all of us. In the words of Madison, Ambition counteracting ambition through our actions

Click here to send your letter:

One letter multiplied by thousands will make a difference

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