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For Immediate Release
February 10, 2020

UUP: Taxing the ultra-rich will help SUNY, workers

UUP President Frederick E. Kowal, Ph.D., today urged the state Legislature and the governor to enact a series of new “revenue raisers” to help fund the State University of New York and its cash-strapped campuses.

New revenue from enacting an enhanced Millionaires’ Tax on the ultra-wealthy and a pied-a-terre tax will begin reversing devastating Great Recession-era cuts and years of flat state funding for SUNY.

UUP estimates an enhanced Millionaires’ Tax will generate an additional $2 billion in new state revenue. A pied-a-terre tax—which would tax luxury residential property not used by their owners as primary residences—would bring in an extra $560 million in new state funding.

The union also supports closing the Carried Interest Loophole (which could generate $3.5 billion yearly in new state revenue), taxing reducing or eliminating the stock transfer tax (up to $14 billion in new revenue), and enacting a tax on corporate stock buybacks.

Kowal, speaking today at an Albany press conference with leaders from NYSUT, the Communications Workers of America, and other unions, said SUNY should receive a portion of these new revenues to remedy years of state disinvestment in the University. State funding cuts and flat funding have taken their toll on campuses—especially the University’s technical and comprehensive colleges—many of which are struggling to close ever-growing deficits.

“Our state's leaders must embrace every step necessary to create a tax system that requires those who have benefited from a growing economy to pay more for the privilege of living in the greatest state in the union and—many of them—for living in the greatest city in the world,” Kowal said. “To not take up the challenge of fixing the regressive tax system in New York this year will mean that our leaders are surrendering to the inevitable decline of our institutions of public higher education. It will also mean that political courage is as scarce a commodity in Albany as it is in Washington, D.C.”

Direct state aid to SUNY has dropped by about $660 million from 2007-08 to 2019-20, a decrease of nearly 50 percent, or a third of SUNY’s core operating budget. Flat budgets have exacerbated the situation.

The University at Albany, SUNY Buffalo State, SUNY Fredonia, SUNY New Paltz, SUNY Plattsburgh and SUNY Cobleskill are some of the campuses wrestling with budget shortfalls due in part to the widening TAP Gap—the difference between full SUNY tuition and the amount campuses are allowed to charge TAP-eligible students—which campuses must cover.

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 TAP Gap.

UUP is also pushing for the restoration of an $87 million state subsidy for SUNY’s beleaguered public teaching hospitals in Brooklyn, Stony Brook and Syracuse.

Two studies, a January Data for Progress survey and a new Hart Research Associates poll, found that New Yorkers strongly support new taxes on the ultra-rich, as well as a host of other tax increases to raise new revenue. The Hart poll found that more than 90 percent of voters surveyed support taxes on billionaires and multimillionaires, and a pied-a-terre tax.

UUP is the nation's largest higher education union, with more than 42,000 academic and professional faculty and retirees. UUP members work at 29 New York state-operated campuses, including SUNY’s public teaching hospitals and health science centers in Brooklyn, Long Island and Syracuse. It is an affiliate of NYSUT, the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association, and the AFL-CIO.


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