March 11, 2016
By Stephanie West, Albany Bureau
Albany, NY – More than 800 New York State United Teachers’ activists converged on the state Capitol on March 8th to urge lawmakers to take advantage of the state’s $5.4 billion budget surplus and make significant new investments in public education.
NYSUT President Karen E. Magee said the union’s volunteer lobbyists would press legislators to boost state aid to public schools by $2.5 billion and make good on $318 million in prior year aid claims, while advocating that elected leaders enact a true maintenance of effort bill and help CUNY and SUNY recover from the loss of $1.5 billion in state support since 2008.
NYSUT is urging lawmakers to fully fund SUNY and CUNY four-year campuses; reject performance-based funding; and create a $250 million Excelsior Excellence Fund endowment. NYSUT is strongly opposing a $485 million cost shift to CUNY and supporting calls for maintaining funding to support collective bargaining at CUNY. In addition, the union is calling for a $250 per full-time student equivalent increase in aid to SUNY and CUNY community colleges.
NYSUT is also requesting additional funding to create community schools; oppose the Parental Choice in Education Act and the Education Investment Tax Credit; increase funding for teacher centers; and modify the undemocratic tax cap.
“New York’s public schools and colleges are critical to the future of our state. The state budget surplus tops $5 billion. It may be years before there is a better opportunity to make the necessary investments that students — from pre-K all the way through graduate school — need and deserve,” Magee said. “Our message to Albany is: Let’s do it this year.”