ALBANY - New York State United Teachers leaders said that the mid-year cuts proposed for SUNY and CUNY will impact essential student services at a time of great need, and that they represent a major tax increase for students and their families.
Gov. Paterson has ordered a $90 million cut to SUNY and has proposed a $53 million reduction in the CUNY budget. The CUNY cut would require legislative approval.
"The ones who will suffer from devastating mid-year cuts are the students," said NYSUT President Richard Iannuzzi. "If (New York's public universities) are forced to scale back admissions, countless individuals will be left without access to an affordable college education during this tough economic time."
"These cuts are unthinkable," said Alan Lubin, NYSUT executive vice president. "In tough times like these, cutting back – or, in many cases, eliminating - the one affordable means through which many of our state's students can earn a college degree is incredibly misguided. These cuts will cause irreparable harm and will damage the future of our state's economy.
"We don't understand these cuts," continued Lubin. "President Obama himself has highlighted the importance of higher education in rebuilding our nation's and our state's economy."
Starting with mid-year cuts in 2008 of $148 million - representing 25 percent of the cuts taken against state agencies - SUNY has been flattened by budget cuts. The University also lost $172 million in state support in the 2009-10 state budget, bringing the overall cuts to SUNY, including today's cuts, to a staggering $410 million. This is a 25-30 percent reduction in the amount of state support available to the institution.
Meanwhile, CUNY's budget was already reduced $68 million in 2008 and $44 million this year. From 1991 to 2008, state funding for CUNY's senior colleges fell 14 percent in per-student, adjusted dollars. Lubin said NYSUT would work aggressively with the CUNY faculty union – the Professional Staff Congress - to convince lawmakers to reject the proposed cuts.
NYSUT represents approximately 22,000 PSC members and 35,000 members of United University Professions, which represents SUNY's academic and professional faculty.
NYSUT, the state's largest union, represents more than 600,000 classroom teachers and other school employees; faculty and other professionals at the state's community colleges, State University of New York and City University of New York, and other education and health professionals. NYSUT is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association and AFL-CIO.