May 12, 2020
Latest State Updates:
UUP’s Recent State Advocacy Efforts:
- After a disappointing budget last year, UUP began meeting with legislators in their home districts, especially the leadership, to get them familiar with our topic areas.
- In October, we commenced a campaign to raise the profile of UUP and our issues still further, issues such as TAP Gap, student debt, the devastating, long-term impacts of the cuts of the Great Recession and the abandonment of our SUNY hospitals.
- UUP worked with the New York State Senate to organize the historic public hearings across the state. Dozens of UUP members and hundreds of our students, partnering with PSC, gave testimony about the importance of our mission and the issues we battle for every day.
- We held rallies across the state in December and February and brought almost 500 students to the State Capitol to educate lawmakers about SUNY and CUNY.
- Most recently in the final days of budget negotiations, our membership sent almost 2,000 postcards to Gov. Cuomo, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, and Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and we submitted almost 900 digital letters to those leaders and individual legislators.
The Fiscal Year 2020-21 Budget:
- All indications were that this year’s budget would feature deep cuts, as we started the year with a $6 billion projected deficit due to Medicaid spending.
- UUP’s efforts: We, along with a revenue coalition of unions and grassroots advocacy groups, pushed for increased taxes on billionaires in New York. From the start, that was at the center of our advocacy campaign, and it will remain so for the foreseeable future.
- Then, the COVID-19 pandemic hit and shut down our economy here in New York and then the entire country. This alone has led to a state budget deficit that could exceed $15 billion.
- UUP’s efforts: It was the relationships that we built and the work that we have done, that laid the groundwork for a path forward protecting SUNY, which was followed by our state leaders.
- The final budget passed did not cut SUNY’s funding. It is a flat budget. It’s bitterly disappointing that this is the case. It is not the budget we hoped for. Before COVID-19 struck we were poised to see an increase in funding for SUNY. However, to end up without the deep cuts that many were predicting is a relief, albeit a temporary one.
- Unfortunately, given the declining state revenue, SUNY’s proposal to have a 2:1 match on new campus capital projects remained in the budget. We will work to have targeted capital resources next year to offset this ill-conceived plan.
- Though the state budget is flat, we did achieve victories:
- We were able to stop (once again) the Governor’s proposals to end the standard Medicare Part B reimbursement and IRMAA for NYSHIP retirees and defeat his proposed sliding scale (based on retirement year) for health insurance reimbursements.
- We were able to stop the extension of the so-called rational tuition program. Remember that this proposal would have created a huge increase in the TAP Gap. This win helps students and our institutions with high percentages of TAP students.
- We were able to keep the $150 million in capital funding for the three SUNY hospitals. This will assist in the further modernization of these facilities in the aftermath of the present COVID-19 crisis.
- 4. We were able to keep the DSH funding in the budget, to the tune of over $230 million, with a federal match of another $230 million. This will also be a big help during the crisis.