January 5, 2018 | Academic Affairs

By Emily Tai

Governor Cuomo at podium

On the eve of  last Thursday’s swirling snow storm, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo delivered an inspiring 2018 State of the State address in Albany that contained several encouraging messages for CUNY Faculty.

More Funding for Higher Education
Trickle-down economics, Governor Cuomo asserted, doesn’t work.  Accordingly, the Governor asserted, “there will be no trickle-down education funding” in New York.  The Governor announced plans to expand New York State’s Excelsior Scholarship, a program that is already contributing to an 11% uptick in applications to CUNY for the fall, 2018 semester, according to Inside Higher Ed.  Citing its value to working New Yorkers, Governor Cuomo’s proposed 2018 budget also includes a proposal to expand Queens College’s Joseph S. Murphy Institute for Worker Education into the “CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies” (pp. 166-167).

Pro-Union and Criminal Justice Reform
Governor Cuomo’s State of the State speech included additional assertions of policy and sentiment with good implications for CUNY students and faculty.  In outlining plans for further initiatives in support of criminal justice reform, the Governor spoke movingly of the late Khalief Browder, the young Bronx Community College student who took his own life in 2015 after spending over 1000 days on Riker’s Island awaiting trial on charges of having stolen a backpack—charges Browder denied to the end of his life.  Governor Cuomo also vowed to protect unions and working New Yorkers, whatever the disposition of Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, Council 31, the pending Supreme Court case that could eliminate mandatory fees for the expenses of collective bargaining.

Even if the Governor’s recent veto of the Maintenance of Effort bill for CUNY and SUNY may have represented a discouraging setback for CUNY faculty and students at the end of 2017, this last statement seems to offer encouragement to CUNY faculty, and the Professional Staff Congress, that, perhaps, better times may lie ahead.

Emily S. Tai is an associate professor of History at Queensborough Community College.

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Photo: New York National Guard, (CC BY-ND 2.0)