ALBANY, N.Y. March 28, 2011 — New York State United Teachers vowed today to continue fighting for budget restorations, saying the state’s brightening fiscal picture — and widespread public support for more education funding — support pressing state leaders to restore investment in public education in order to preserve valuable school programs.
NYSUT President Richard C. Iannuzzi acknowledged the Legislature’s restorations as “positive steps,” but said they fall far short of what’s needed to avoid devastating program cuts to public schools, community colleges and SUNY and CUNY campuses. He noted today’s Siena Research Institute poll shows strong opposition to education cuts, and broad support among all demographic groups for even larger restorations to the education budget.
“While we will continue to seek further relief at the state level through restorations and added revenues, we must redouble our efforts to be sure that as great a portion of these cuts as possible be absorbed outside the classroom,” Iannuzzi said. “When all is said and done,” he continued, “efficiencies alone, however, are unlikely to avoid a devastatingly negative impact on kids and programs.”
NYSUT Executive Vice President Andrew Pallotta said the union would continue to fight for continuation of the income tax surcharge on the wealthiest New Yorkers. The Siena Research Institute poll also showed 71 percent of New Yorkers support asking millionaires to share the pain and help alleviate the worst of the budget’s cuts.
“Despite all the rhetoric about valuing education, choices had to be made in this budget and the choice was to protect millionaires at the expense of teachers and students,” Pallotta said. “Students who are struggling will not be getting the extra support they need. Class sizes will grow. Schools are closing. And high school juniors and seniors applying to colleges are losing opportunities in the arts, music and sports.”
NYSUT said early reports indicate the budget may make some vitally needed restorations to community colleges and SUNY hospitals. But, the union said, cuts that remain “have us deeply concerned about the ability of SUNY hospitals to sustain services and remain solvent; and the capacity of community colleges to maintain academic programs as enrollment skyrockets. Additionally, we are deeply concerned that this budget appears to prevent CUNY from spending more than $40 million already collected in student tuition revenue to benefit its own students.”
Pallotta added, “We will never give up fighting on behalf of the hard-working teachers, school staff and higher education faculty, and the more than 3 million New York students they serve.”
NYSUT, the state’s largest union, represents more than 600,000 teachers, school-related professionals, academic and professional faculty in higher education, professionals in education and health care and retirees. NYSUT is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association and the AFL-CIO.