The NCCFT has many progressive ideas to move this union forward and we will continue to do our best to unfold these initiatives in the months to follow. First things first, however. Once again, the state, county and college claim that we are in a financial crisis. Do not believe that assertion. We are in a political crisis, not a financial crisis. Our elected officials can take political measures to help close both the New York State and Nassau County Budget Gaps.
It is true that business as usual cannot continue. Therefore, everyone must share in shouldering the burden necessary for a solution. This sharing includes the wealthiest New Yorkers. The state could extend the current income tax rate on the wealthiest; add 1% to the millionaires taxable income; close the loopholes that reduce the millionaires taxable income substantially and place a 50% surcharge on the money saved by the Bush tax cuts for families earning over 250K. Remember Wall Street and the investment banks? Why aren’t the political leaders talking about their share of the burden? Instead, the state seeks only to blame education, health and other public services. The County eliminated the fuel surcharge and still refuses to increase the College portion of the resident’s tax bill. Instead, they too blame the public workers and want to renegotiate the union contracts. All this, in the name of a financial crisis. Does anyone recall the state or county coming to the public employee and announcing that times are good; therefore, they are ready to spread the wealth?
Furthermore, the College could look to further efficiencies by talking to the faculty leadership and membership, rather than increasing the Administration through new positions, personal service contracts, “assistants to the director” and hiring private law firms to battle us.
We are middle class, public employees. We are intelligent, motivated, successful and articulate. It would be unfortunate if, through vanity, we separated ourselves from other public employees. Because, once the massacre begins, no one knows where it will end. The federal, state and local governments and businesses around the country now refer to us as the special interest groups who are to blame for the financial crisis. Who are these special interests groups they are talking about? The poor, the hungry, the sick, the aged, schoolchildren, college students, the struggling public employee?
The powers that are trying to eliminate us have somehow stolen the narrative and we must take it back. Therefore, we need you. I know you keep getting messages from us to contact your elected officials for one thing or another. Many of you do, some do not. This is a political crisis and we need you to exercise your rights and obligations as a citizen and public employee to take back the narrative.
Now, the governor has introduced a budget that decreases their contribution to Nassau Community College by 4.5 million dollars. This would result in an FTE contribution to Nassau Community College of $2,034, equal to the amount we received in 1999. That is not merely wrong, that is unacceptable! We need you to contact your State and County Legislators. .
And please consider picking up the phone and calling your representatives. Hearing a live voice can make a big difference. You can find contact information for your state officials for your state officials here and for Nassau County legislators here.
Here are some things you can say to help us take back the narrative:
Thank you for your continued support for the community colleges. We are calling on you to reaffirm your support. The 2011-12 Executive Budget proposes a 10% cut in the state’s appropriation to SUNY community colleges of $226 FTE. This totals $44.3 million dollars on an academic year basis. At Nassau Community College, this equates to a 4.5 million dollar reduction. This reduction comes on top of a $415 FTE cut over the past two years. All told, these cuts amount to a reduction of over 15% in two years in spite of record student enrollment at the community colleges.
This has resulted in overcrowding of our classes for our most vulnerable students, a decrease in full time faculty who not only teach, but also provide essential services to these students and the campus as a whole and a general degradation of the infrastructure of the campus, which has been described by you as the “Gem” of Nassau County.
Please personalize your story. Tell everyone you know how these cuts have affected the quality of education and how important that quality is to our students. Tell them about your own students and how you see the cuts affecting their ability to complete their educations. Take back the narrative!
Those things that drive you crazy might not be the same things that drive our elected officials crazy, but we need you to keep telling them what drives you crazy until you drive them crazy.
And now, for a little Monday Morning Music…
Frank Frisenda, NCCFT Vice-President