ALBANY, NEW YORK, March 23 — Outside the Albany Capitol offices of Governor Andrew Cuomo, 200 City University of NY faculty, staff, graduate and undergraduate students picketed and loudly chanted “Tax the Rich, Not the Poor, Stop the War on CUNY!” and “Workers and Students Are Under Attack, What Do We Do?, Stand Up, Fight Back!” We were joined by parent and tenant activists.
The Professional Staff Congress (the CUNY faculty and staff union) organized this protest to demonstrate its anger at the Governor for cutting $95 million from the budget of the four-year colleges, and $17.5 million of the community colleges, to which NYC Mayor Bloomberg may cut an additional $35 million in NYC funding. Forty-six percent of community college students at CUNY come from households with incomes of $20,000 or less. Many of these students hold jobs in order to pay tuition and fees and buy textbooks.
Reducing funding for the community colleges will mean larger class sizes, less guidance, and further hikes in tuition, making it harder to graduate and forcing some to drop out. Slashing the funding of the community colleges is also racist, as 81% of the students are black, Latino, and Asian.
From Egypt to Wisconsin, workers and students are not accepting business-as-usual. This day was no different. Thirty-three of us sat down and blocked access to the Governor’s office. With the chants of 170 or so fellow demonstrators reverberating in the Capitol building, we were arrested.
‘They Say Cut Back, We Say Fight Back’
The Governor’s slashing of billions from education and health care in a state with more billionaires than any other in the U.S. is outright class warfare. In NYC alone, there are 60 billionaires, and the wealthiest 1% of its residents receives an extraordinary 44% of all income. In NY State, there are 44,000 millionaires, who year after year increase their share of total income. Yet they object to extending a relatively small tax surcharge on high income, dubbed the “millionaire’s tax.”