New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has decided that the alleged $10 billion budget deficit in the state will be settled by cutting vital public services, like Medicaid and education, and eliminating public employees’ jobs. However, the highest earners making more than $200,000 a year will get a tax reduction.
Via televised address on his web page, Cuomo announced, “I won’t compromise on this issue.”
By his actions he is refusing to bargain with state employees and others affected by these drastic cuts.
These budget cuts will greatly affect the City University of New York. A major part of CUNY’s funds come from the state. The system’s senior colleges will lose $95.1 million and its community colleges will lose $17.5 million if the budget passes as it has been proposed without changes.
The PSC, an American Federation of Teachers local that represents 20,000 CUNY faculty members and staff, organized a direct-action protest to stop these crippling cuts at the New York state Capitol.
Chanting “Tax the rich, not the poor!” and “No cuts to CUNY,” five busloads of PSC members and supporters from community groups, schools and colleges went to Albany on March 23. They marched into the Executive Chamber and sat down in front of Cuomo’s office, blocking access. Thirty-three participants were arrested.
Professional Staff Congress President Barbara Bowen, who was one of those arrested, said: “We made the decision to risk arrest because we cannot allow the injustice of this budget to stand. We have lobbied, rallied and written in support of a fair budget, but our voices have not been heard. Albany is on the verge of passing a budget that is so damaging to our students and so fundamentally unjust that we had to take a stand. “
As she was led away in handcuffs, Susan DeRaimo, an adjunct teacher in the English as a Second Language program at City College, told Fox23 Albany News, “My students — taxi drivers, home health aides — should be able to go to CUNY for free like I did.”
Six students were arrested along with 27 PSC members. They all were charged with disorderly conduct and released after a few hours with a desk appearance ticket.
State Sens. Ruben Diaz Sr. of the Bronx and Bill Perkins of Bedford-Stuyvesant briefly took part in the protest, which got wide press coverage in New York and around the country.
For more information on upcoming PSC actions, see www.psc-cuny.org.