NYC Mobilizes Against Proposed Cuts

Posted December 18, 2008

On December 16, New York State Governor Patterson proposed a total of $9 billion of spending cuts and regressive tax and fee hikes. These include tax increases on soda and movies, and increases in professional licensing fees such as those for cosmetologists and barbers. The cuts are wide ranging but would hit education particularly hard.

CUNY students, faculty and allies rally against proposed tuition hikes and budget cuts on Dec. 16

Public schools would see a $700 million reduction in state aid. An increase in funding for pre-kindergarten, mandated by the state courts as a result of the Campaign for Fiscal Equity victory, would be delayed.

The City University of New York (CUNY) would suffer a $51 million cut and a $600 tuition hike, forcing poorer students to put off their educations.

A coalition called One New York has come together to fight against these cuts and push for tax hikes on the wealthy. They point out that New York State looses over $17 billion a year due to personal income tax cuts on the rich that were enacted since 1994. Members of One New York include large unions such as 1199/SEIU and smaller social service agencies.

Students and staff on public university campuses have organized local responses to proposed CUNY cuts. About a month ago there was a rally that drew over 400 participants at Laguardia Community College. On December 11th, members of a the Brooklyn College Ad Hoc Student Coalition Against the Budget Cuts organized a smaller speak out.

On the evening of December 16, hours after Governor Patterson released his budget, about 400 hundred students, faculty and allies braved the snow to rally in front of Patterson’s midtown Manhattan office. The Professional Staff Congress, the professors’ union, was the most visible presence. CUNY Contingents United, a group formed to advocate for part time faculty and staff, also participated.

Smaller contingents from various left organizations, including the ISO, Spartacus and RCP were also present. They were joined by transit workers, who led a march to the MTA office a few blocks away.

Next semester the PSC is planning to organize a series of hearings on campus with legislators from the campus localities.

The state legislature will vote on the Governor’s budget by April. We’ll need a lot of action in that small window of time to save New York from this devastating budget.