News, commentary and analysis by leaders of the Communist Party USA in New York State. We discuss State politics and issues in New York City, covering developments in labor, civil rights education, housing and more.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

$1 Billion Slashed from Budget; TAP Preserved

It's official. The New York State Assembly, Senate and Governor have agreed on a package of cuts in Albany, culminating an emergency session of the legislature.

They cut $400 million from the 2008 budget (this is on top of the big cuts made to the budget in last April) and $600 million in cuts to next year's budget. While the final agreement fell well short of the proposed $2.6 billion in cuts originally proposed by Governor William Paterson, the measures will have a devastating impact on working people in the state.

The biggest hits were to And $50 million was cut from the City University of New York (CUNY), which missed big cuts in the Spring. The state's Tuition Assistant Program (TAP), however, escaped cuts. The student groups which mobilized to oppose higher education cuts this week condemned the CUNY cuts but claimed the preservation of TAP as a victory in a press release yesterday:
While many of the cuts implemented today and in recent months have wounded higher education deeply, we were pleased to see that funding for the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) was at least spared the chopping block. By not cutting TAP — even in this time of strained
resources — our legislators have demonstrated a commitment to accessible higher education.

That said, the cuts to CUNY, SUNY, community colleges and opportunity programs and the governor's recent administrative cuts to SUNY will sting. We hope that the reductions in services that the cuts bring about will be short lived, that the support structures that
opportunity programs provide to students will remain intact, that the quality of education at SUNY and CUNY will not be undermined, and that affordability will not suffer.

New York should be increasing aid to higher education. Investing in the students of New York is a sure way to help pull out of our economic tailspin.
The agreement implemented now new taxes to address the crisis. Some Democratic legislators and local advocates—including New York city Council Member Charles Barron— had pushed for various measures to tax the rich in the State.

The cuts still leave a predicted $5.4 billion deficit in the 2009 budget which means there will be pressure too come back next year and cut even deeper. We have to build a movement now to point to real solutions to the fiscal crisis: progressive taxation, which makes the ultra-rich and big corporations pay their fair share.

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