NASSAU COMMUNITY COLLEGE FEDERATION OF TEACHERS
Statement on the Nassau Community College Budget
Delivered to the Nassau County Legislature
June 21, 2010
As representatives of the Nassau Community College Federation of Teachers, we do not stand here in opposition to the college budget. However we are here to express our concerns about the future of public higher education in Nassau County.
As you are aware, Section 6304 of the State Education Law establishes that one third (1/3) of community college’s funding should come from the state, while one third (1/3) should come from its county sponsor and no more than one third (1/3) from student tuition. (In fact, at open admissions institutions 40% of funding is supposed to be provided by the state.) Yet, at the present time the state only provides about 23% of our funding, the County provides 26% and the students pay 38%. The balance, 13%, is funded through other revenue streams.
The economic crisis facing New York State was not caused by unions and public employees. It was caused by the greed and irresponsibility of private sector employees and executives on Wall Street. Yet these executives and employees earn large bonuses and receive public bailout money while unions and public employees are painted as selfish for being concerned about their basic economic security.
Even worse, recently Wall Street bonuses have been paid as stock options, thus not taxed, causing a further reduction in revenue for the State. Meanwhile, faculty at NCC accepted a 0% raise in the current year and a 1% raise in the next year.
Our concerns go beyond our own financial gain. Our concerns are with the future of Nassau Community College and with the opportunities it provides to residents of our county.
Members of the Legislature, you have told us time and again that Nassau Community College is a “gem” in the county. If the college is a gem, it is because of the dedication and expertise of its employees, whether NCCFT, AFA, CSEA or administration. Yet, despite our hard work, our dedication, and the deep need for our services, a choice is being made not to adequately fund the college. We can all point to the total dysfunction in Albany but this choice was made prior to the current chaos. We have had many discussions with members of this Legislature concerning funding from Albany, but let’s face it, you probably have as much access and influence with State lawmakers as we do, and together we still find ourselves in this situation. In addition, while we are grateful for your support of the College, without future increases in County funding the 26% the County currently contributes, and which is currently close to what is required by law, will quickly erode.
Nassau Community College created this budget in the face of funding cuts from Albany and no new money from the County. Yet the cost of running the college continues to rise. This created a structural deficit for the college, and required the College to make painful cuts. After many long and sometimes disagreeable meetings the budget you now see before you was produced by the Administration.
But before we celebrate the success of producing a budget that is actually lower than last year’s, a necessity in response to our receiving no increase in County funding and a reduction in State funding, it is important that you understand that these cuts do not reflect a cutting of “frills.” These cuts resulted in the loss of jobs, the loss of support for programs, and unfortunately in a reduction in the quality of your “gem”. Classes will be larger, sections will be fewer, and fewer of the available sections will be taught by faculty whose full time obligation is to the college and its students and whose work is fairly supported by the college.
We hope this reduction in quality is only temporary, but with the structural deficit likely to deepen next year, the continuation of this refusal to fairly fund the college will force the gutting of the core services of the campus. Let me be clear that we are not criticizing the actual process of crafting a budget at the college. That is a fight we will wage on the campus as part of the shared governance process we live by. Our concern is that the process, if conducted without adequate funds from the County and the State, will leave us unable to provide the full range of high quality services our county’s residents need in a time of crisis.
During tough times education is more important than ever. In order to keep the economy of Nassau County strong we need a well educated workforce. The only way to do that affordably and fairly is to fully fund public higher education. During tough times Community Colleges meet the needs of many more students than is usually the case. This is exactly the wrong time to provide less than full funding for Nassau Community College.
We are all able to make short term sacrifices, but we must not make long term sacrifices which are unsustainable, and which will turn the county’s gem into something much less valuable.
The Executive Committee of the NCCFT
- M. Debra DeSanto, President
- Frank Frisenda, Vice President for Classroom Faculty
- James Hoyt, Ph.D., Vice President for Nonclassroom Faculty
- Michael Anzelone, Secretary
- Elizabeth Anne Wood, Ph.D., Treasurer