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Earlier this week, the New York State Division of the Budget announced its FY 2021 Enacted State Budget Financial Plan, which will reduce spending by $10.1 billion from the Executive Budget with increased authorities to the Budget Director to make further cuts considering anticipated losses in revenue based on consequences due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The specific impact on the state’s community colleges could be staggering with cuts up to as much as 50%. This would be on top of the difficult decision our state delegation has made already to deny the floor funding and increase per FTE base aid for next year.

We are already within the 10-day time frame that the NYS legislature has to respond to the Budget Director’s proposal. With no new funds available for consideration in their response, advocacy is needed now to ensure that community colleges do not receive further cuts, which would be disproportionate compared to other state funded entities and unfair as we educate some of the neediest individuals who have so much to offer as future employees and scholars.

Further, while Westchester’s federal delegation does not decide upon state budget issues, we need their support now to secure federal stimulus funds for New York State at a level that is proportional to the impact that COVID-19 has had on us. We have expressed our appreciation for federal stimulus funds that are already helping students. However, New York State is the hardest hit in the nation, and Westchester County is the state’s original epicenter of the pandemic. Westchester Community College was among the first institutions to face the realities of COVID-19 virus, and its ravaging affects are far from behind us. We urgently need the next federal stimulus to provide NYS the resources to avert the deep budget cuts that are otherwise coming.

If you would like to join the collective effort that also includes the Faculty Council of Community Colleges, New York Community College Association of Presidents, New York Community College Trustees, the Westchester Community College Foundation, and our WCC Board of Trustees, there are links to resources below that include sample letters and where to find your local state and federal elected officials. It is incredibly important to act this weekend, because deadlines on decision making are short.

Federal Outreach

· Sample letter – https://www.sunywcc.edu/…/doc…/federal_advocacy_template.pdf

· Find your U.S. Senator https://www.senate.gov/…/contact_informati…/senators_cfm.cfm
(New York is represented by Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand. Governor Cuomo repeatedly reminds us that our response is regional, so advocacy from our community members living in Connecticut and New Jersey is important, particularly for federal advocacy on funding for higher education and community college students!)

· Find your U.S. Representative https://www.house.gov/representati…/find-your-representative (Westchester Community College is located in the 17th Congressional District represented by Congresswoman Nita M. Lowey.)

State Outreach

· Sample letter – https://www.sunywcc.edu/…/docum…/state_advocacy_template.pdf

· Find your NYS Senator https://www.nysenate.gov/find-my-senator (The college is located in the 40th Senate District represented by Senator Pete Harckham.)

· Find your NYS Assembly Member https://nyassembly.gov/mem/search/ (The college is located in the 92nd Assembly District represented by Assembly member Thomas J. Abinanti.)SENATE.GOV