Funding College For Inmates Wrong Priority

The costs of the governor’s out-of-touch priorities are adding up for New Yorkers. This week, he unveiled his College-in-Prison Reentry Program, which will use more than $7 million in bank settlements to fund college classes for inmates. While countless students are struggling to pay rising college costs and recent graduates are suffocating under crushing loan debt, the governor has prioritized prisoners over law-abiding students and their families. It’s insulting.
 
The cost of education in New York is too high and mounting student debt is crushing young men and women trying to start their careers. It is shameful the governor has again chosen to chase headlines and political points rather than enact sound, common-sense public policy.  
 
NEW YORK’S HIGHER EDUCATION PLAN IS MISGUIDED
 
Recently, the governor’s Excelsior Scholarship Program was enacted to cover the cost of tuition at state schools for certain residents. Unfortunately, this plan does nothing to address the avalanche of debt students have accumulated and does nothing to help graduate students. It was a program the governor announced alongside Bernie Sanders and finalized next to Hillary Clinton. It’s a restrictive and narrow plan masquerading as “free” college.
 
We must alleviate the pressure on all students. They are New York’s future leaders, entrepreneurs and educators. It is critical we give them every advantage as they begin their journey into the workforce.  
 
ASSEMBLY MINORITY PROPOSALS ADDRESS EDUCATION COSTS BROADLY
 
In the politically-driven fanfare, the governor failed to mention that his college tuition program affects only a tiny fraction of the state’s total student population. The Assembly Minority Conference proposed a comprehensive approach to reducing the cost of college and student debt. Our proposals include:

  • Increasing the Tuition Assistance Program Household Income Threshold to $125,000 over the next three years, bringing more students into the program.  
     
  • Making TAP Awards Bigger and raising the maximum award to $6,470. Further, every TAP recipient would receive at least an increase of $500.
     
  • Assisting Graduate Students by making them, again, eligible for the Tuition Assistance Program.
     
  • Offering a Taxable Income Reduction on both principal and interest for those paying student loans. Single filers can receive up to $4,000, head of household filers can receive up to $6,000, and married filers can receive up to $8,000 under our proposal.    

Undoubtedly, there must be programs in place to assist those reentering society from prison. However, the state’s public policy must reflect fairness, economic interests and support for those who play by the rules. The governor’s proposal, sadly, does not reflect any of those ideals.
 
What do you think? I want to hear from you. Send me your feedback, suggestions and ideas regarding this or any other issue facing New York State. You can always contact my district office at (315) 781-2030, email me at kolbb@nyassembly.gov, find me by searching for Assemblyman Brian Kolb on Facebook and follow me on Twitter.

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