Coalitions release CounterBudget for New York that puts people first, restores higher ed funding

On Monday, statewide organizations converged on Albany to release a CounterBudget that prioritizes the needs of working, middle-class, and unemployed families in New York state. The plan, compiled by New Yorkers for Fiscal Fairness, budget is meant to “put people first” by taking action on issues including increasing the minimum wage and welfare grant, eliminating proposed transfer language that would weaken budget oversight, and restoring needed funding to human services programs and education:

“At the same time lawmakers are giving tax breaks to millionaires and corporations, SUNY and CUNY students are being asked to pay 30% more in tuition to receive an education at campuses that are grossly underfunded and increasingly controlled by private corporate interests,” said Rafael Gomez, NY Students Rising.

“We refuse to accept austerity conditions for the students of New York, whether they’re in kindergarten or college. It’s time to end the underfunding of public education and stop using tuition hikes and teacher layoffs to fill the budget gaps left by Albany’s disinvestment in education,” said Barbara Bowen, president of the Professional Staff Congress. “There is money in New York for our schools, for CUNY and SUNY, for better financial aid and for ending tuition hikes. To give students the opportunity they deserve, Albany must make our tax system more progressive and close loopholes.”

The higher education section of the plan (pp. 22–24) highlights the shift in funding toward tuition dollars over the past  several years and the burden those increases place on New York families. Policy recommendations include a restoration state Base Aid to 2008/09 funding levels (still short of the 40% goal under state educational law), increases in the state’s contribution to community colleges’ operating budgets, freezes on tuition increases at CUNY and SUNY, and reforms to the state’s Tuition Assistance Program (TAP).

The full CounterBudget plan is available here.