Tomorrow, President Holloway will give his budget address to the University Senate. With Rutgers prospering during the pandemic and the administration’s unrestricted reserves climbing to a new high of $818.6 million, you’d expect President Holloway to be cheerful about our university’s financial health.
Unfortunately, we expect a gloomier speech. President Holloway and members of his administration have been warning that “deficit budgets are on the horizon” and claiming that our unions’ demands for a fair contract would force the administration to raise tuition drastically.
Today, the two of us responded to these alarming claims in an op-ed published at NJ.com. We believe the administration’s talk about budget deficits and the need for austerity is a scare tactic—designed to discourage us from fighting for our demands for a fair contract.
Our unions’ research into Rutgers finances shows that the administration regularly sees “budget deficits on the horizon” that vanish over the course of the fiscal year. The chart shows that for every year except 2019–20 (when the pandemic struck midyear), the administration’s budget for the coming fiscal year (the shaded bar) predicted an operating deficit or small surplus—but Rutgers ended up with a much bigger surplus (the solid bar) at the end of the fiscal year. In the past two years, the gap between prediction and reality grew to hundreds of millions of dollars.
Last spring, members of our University Budget and Priorities Committee analyzed Rutgers’ most recent financial report and concluded that we are in strong financial shape. Yet the administration is predicting a huge deficit of $125.5 million in their budget for the current fiscal year—just shy of what they guesstimated for 2020–21, the worst year of the pandemic.
Is this a realistic projection? Does it make sense to predict a deficit nearly as large as for the year they declared a “fiscal emergency”? We think the administration’s warnings about deficits are really part of a strategy to intimidate us and fool the public into thinking Rutgers doesn’t have the money to pay all of its educators and staff a fair wage and provide basic job protections.
Our unions have ambitious proposals to make a better Rutgers for all of us—our students and their families, staff, grad workers, adjunct and full-time faculty, and the communities around our campuses. The administration can make these important changes without raising tuition. We have to show the administration that we won’t accept any of us being shortchanged in our next contract. If you haven’t taken the 2023 Strike Pledge yet, we ask you to take it now—and send a message to management that we won’t be intimidated from fighting for our demands.
- Monday, February 20, 6:30 p.m.: Join us at the All-Member Town Hall and bring your questions and ideas about our strike pledge and campaign for a strong contract. Click here to RSVP for the link.
- Tuesday, February 28, 10 a.m.–4:30 p.m.: Come to a Day of People’s Protest and Education at Rutgers-Newark, with a 12 p.m. rally and action to confront the Board of Governors when they meet. Click here to tell us you’re coming.
- Sign up for Strike School! Click here to register for two virtual 90-minute training sessions on organizing to win being held multiple times through the end of the month.
Rebecca Givan, President, Rutgers AAUP-AFT
Amy Higer, President, Rutgers Adjunct Faculty Union, PTLFC-AAUP-AFT