For Immediate Release
January 28, 2021
United University Professions has issued a wide-ranging 2021-2022 state legislative agenda that rejects Gov. Cuomo’s proposed Executive Budget cuts and calls for the State University of New York to commit to an expanded role in meeting the challenges our society faces.
“The governor has proposed two budgets, one with cuts and one where the budget is flat,” said UUP President Frederick E. Kowal. “This is a false choice. UUP says there is another way.”
“We propose a package that would increase access to healthcare and higher education, essential mission funding for our SUNY public hospitals, and a sustainable path forward for the state,” Kowal continued. “This more ambitious option is made possible by calling on the wealthiest New Yorkers to pay their fair share.”
UUP’s legislative agenda, New York HEALS (Healthcare, Education, Access, Leadership, Sustainability) is an avenue to reach these progressive goals.
“This is an ambitious plan, but one that’s demanded by the times,” said Kowal. “NY HEALS is a comprehensive agenda that builds a future for SUNY, for our students, our communities, our nation and our world. It offers a path to help the state regain its financial footing, builds a foundation fortified by a strong, innovative public higher education system, protects our environment, and expands SUNY’s healthcare system—which will provide cutting-edge care to more New Yorkers than ever before.”
Healthcare is at the core of NY HEALS. The state must invest in SUNY’s hospitals for them to fulfill their public health missions. UUP’s legislative package calls for the restoration of $87 million in essential mission funding, and for hazard pay for frontline workers at SUNY’s public teaching hospitals in Brooklyn, Stony Brook and Syracuse.
“Our dedicated members placed their health and the health of their families on the line to care for COVID-infected patients, and they are the only hospital employees not getting hazard pay,” said Kowal. “They deserve hazard pay or other additional compensation to recognize their sacrifice.”
“We understand that the state is facing a budget deficit, but the lack of hazard pay for SUNY hospital employees, coupled with the delay in contractual raises for UUP members across the system, reflects a lack of understanding of what New Yorkers need,” he added.
Inspired by the SUNY’s successful Educational Opportunity Program (EOP), UUP is proposing the creation of a Medical EOP to build a larger and more diverse cohort of medical students in SUNY’s academic medical centers.
UUP, which represents 37,000 members at SUNY, is advocating for a correction of the expiring Tuition Assistance Program formula to ensure that the true costs of a SUNY education are covered by the program, not by struggling families and campuses.
UUP believes SUNY can lead the way in carrying out the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) by expanding programming across campuses to establish SUNY as a world leader in climate crisis research and mitigation.
UUP recognizes that ambitious policy is not possible without progressive tax policy. NY HEALS proposes a menu of revenue raisers—including reinstating the state’s Stock Transfer Tax, instituting a capital gains tax, and taxing billionaires, ultra-millionaires and inherited wealth—that could bring billions in new dollars to the state.
“If we are to defeat COVID-19 and emerge as a more just society, we can’t simply continue with the political economy as it was prior to the pandemic,” Kowal said. “It was hopelessly regressive and unjust then. We must do better. NY HEALS leads the way.”