By Shlomie Katash
Governor Kathy Hochul unveiled her proposal on Jan. 16 for a $233 billion budget for the upcoming 2025 fiscal year which, if enacted, would see significant cuts for CUNY schools, potentially worsening the schools’ finances if passed without alterations.
The budget would be the largest the state has ever seen despite closing a $4.3 billion deficit. Hochul detailed her priorities within the plan during the 2024 Budget Address, claiming that it “[coexists] with people-driven progressive policies,” all while not raising income taxes. Among her largest concerns–which included crime, mental health, and economic competitiveness–higher education was absent.
Throughout the address, Hochul mentioned universities only in reference to partnering with the state and other private entities to fund her Empire AI Consortium. This ten-year, $275 million investment will attempt to make New York “a global leader in AI research and development,” according to Hochul, and “prepare [students] for in-demand jobs in the quickly expanding field,” according to CUNY Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez in a statement reacting to Hochul’s address.
The New York State Assembly analyzed the budget and found that, in total, it would cut CUNY appropriation by $528 million, with direct state funding to CUNY senior colleges, such as Brooklyn College, being decreased by $26.8 million, or 3.3% of last year’s budget.
Hochul proposed the cuts despite CUNY requesting a further financial boost from last year’s budget. In terms of two of the most crucial areas of funding, operating, which helps colleges manage day-to-day responsibilities, and capital, which are reserved for the building and maintenance of long-term building projects, CUNY requested $352 million and $1.2 billion, respectively. The latter would reserve $100 million for renovations at Ingersoll and Roosevelt Hall at BC as well.
Instead, Hochul put forward $129 million in operating support, an increase of $36 million from last year, and $441 million in capital support, a decrease of $636 million. Additionally, the budget does not provide money to aid CUNY’s mandatory cost increases that come with raises for faculty and staff.
“The gap between what CUNY is requesting and what Hochul is proposing would exacerbate CUNY’s deficits,” Ludovic Leroy, Interim AVP for Marketing and Communications at BC, told The Vanguard.
Now that Hochul has officially set forward the executive budget, negotiations will occur between Governor Hochul, the Assembly, and the New York State Senate to finalize the budget ahead of the April 1 deadline, though discussions can and have gone well beyond that, as last year’s budget was not passed until May 2.
The process begins with both legislative bodies outlining their specific budgetary and policy requests, leading CUNY leaders to begin lobbying officials to advocate for CUNY’s priorities. Some CUNY officials, such as BC’s president Michelle Anderson, already have trips to Albany organized in the coming weeks, Leroy said.
“I am committed to fighting for every dollar Brooklyn College needs to thrive,” President Anderson said in a statement to The Vanguard. “From now until April 1, I will be vigorously lobbying elected officials, explaining our budgetary needs as well as our vital importance to the Borough and the State.”
Leroy added that the BC administration plans on soon having conversations across the campus regarding the budget and its impact on students and staff.
“This is an opportunity for the Brooklyn College community to come together to advocate for the full funding of CUNY’s request,” Leroy said.