UUP Cortland members demand more state aid for SUNY (video included)

This is a press release from UPP

On Tuesday, March 3rd, United University Professions (UPP) members at SUNY Cortland sent a strong, united message to Albany: Fund SUNY now.

UUP members held a “Fund SUNY Now” rally at the SUNY Cortland campus, where they called on state legislators and the governor to send more state funding to SUNY.

Dozens of UUP members and SUNY students were joined by other unionists and community members, who loudly demanded that lawmakers stand up for SUNY by increasing direct state funding to the University in the 2020-21 state budget.

UUP President Frederick E. Kowal, Ph.D., also called on legislators to create new revenue streams for SUNY, such as enacting an enhanced Millionaires’ Tax, and a pied-a-terre tax.

“We have reached a point where this can’t continue,” Kowal said. “It is time to end this decade-long disinvestment in SUNY. The state has an obligation to provide necessary funding to allow our campuses and our hospitals to offer a quality, affordable, accessible education and world-class health care to all.”

“We cannot do more with less anymore,” said Jaclyn Pittsley, UUP’s Cortland Chapter president. “The state must make a real investment in our university system, and that starts with sending more money to SUNY and closing the TAP Gap.”

SUNY Cortland allots $2.8 million each year to cover the TAP Gap, the 10th highest payout among SUNY’s 29 state-operated campuses. The TAP Gap is the difference between full SUNY tuition and the amount campuses can charge TAP-eligible students; campuses must cover the difference.

The Cortland chapter rally was the latest in a series of UUP rallies at SUNY campuses statewide calling for an increase in direct state funding to the University in the 2020-21 state budget. Similar actions took place in late February at SUNY Buffalo State, SUNY New Paltz, SUNY Plattsburgh, SUNY Old Westbury and other campuses.

The governor’s proposed 2020-21 Executive Budget includes essentially flat funding for SUNY that does nothing to reverse years of disinvestment in the University after damaging Great Recession-era funding cuts. Those reductions, combined with a series flat budgets for SUNY, have resulted in a $660 million drop in direct state aid to campuses from 2007-08 to 2019-20.

Other SUNY campuses—including Buffalo, New Paltz, Plattsburgh, the University at Albany and SUNY Fredonia—are financially struggling and are desperately trying to close budget shortfalls caused by years of SUNY underfunding. The gaps are also due in part to the widening TAP Gap.

The TAP Gap is expected to be around $75 million in 2020-21. UUP is calling for the addition of $75 million in the 2020-21 state budget to close the gap at all state-operated SUNY campuses.

UUP also strongly supports the enactment of an enhanced Millionaires’ Tax, which the union estimates would bring in $2 billion annually in new state revenue. The union also backs the creation of a pied-a-terre tax ($560 million in new revenue) and moves to reduce or eliminate the stock transfer tax (up to $14 billion in new revenue).

UUP represents 42,000 academic and professional faculty and retirees, with members at 29 New York state-operated campuses, including SUNY’s public teaching hospitals and health sciences centers in Brooklyn, Buffalo, Long Island and Syracuse. It is an affiliate of NYSUT, the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association and the AFL-CIO.