Sen. Greg Ball, R-Patterson, Putnam County, launched a petition drive today in opposition to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan to publicly fund college for prisoners.
Cuomo has faced criticism for his plan announced Sunday to spend up to $5,000 an inmate to help them achieve a college degree. Cuomo said the program would cut down on recidivism and ultimately lower the roughly $60,000 a year it costs to house a prisoner.
But Ball and other dissenters said the state shouldn’t be using public money for prisoners at a time when residents are struggling themselves to fund their own college education.
“In a world of finite resources, where we are struggling to find funding for education for our kids, the last thing New York State should be funding is college tuition for convicts,” Ball said in a statement. “As some are unveiling ‘Attica University’, millions of New Yorkers right now are wondering how the heck they are going to pay student loans and help their kids go to college. Why not help them?”
He created a petition drive on his website: http://www.nysenate.gov/webform/hell-no-attica-university-no-free-college-education-convicts
Instead, Ball said he has proposed legislation that would establish a state income-tax deduction on student loan payments.
Ball is not alone in his criticism: Democratic and Republican lawmakers have also knocked the proposal, which Cuomo plans to put in his amended budget plan later this month.
“Our students face out-of-control costs and crushing debt if they decide to pursue a degree – hardworking families need help going to college, not prison inmates,” said Assemblyman James Skoufis, D-Woodbury, Orange County.