As if alienating pro-life conservatives and gun owners wasn't enough, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo seems determined to make everyone in the Empire State an enemy. Meet his latest initiative: Helping prisoners get college degrees - and asking New Yorkers to pay for it.
Cuomo announced his plan to add college courses to ten prisons at Wilborn Temple First Church of God in Albany during the Black, Puerto Rican Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus event. The plan, he argued, would reduce the likelihood of a prisoner returning to prison. Here’s part of his office’s media release:
"Studies have shown that investing in college education for prisoners dramatically decreased recidivism rates while saving tax dollars on incarceration costs."
Sounds nice, but here’s the less popular part of his plan:
Cuomo said the program will cost about $5,000 per year to provide a year of college courses for one inmate. The program will be funded through a partnership among the colleges, state and private sector.
Cuomo may think he’s doing the state a service, but Senator Mark Grisanti (R-I-Buffalo) made an important counterpoint, saying he "supports rehabilitation and reduced recidivism, but not on the taxpayer's dime when so many individuals and families in New York are struggling to meet the ever-rising costs of higher education."
Other New Yorkers agree. Almost as soon as Cuomo’s announcement was posted on Channel 2, Buffalo WGRZ’s Facebook page, 1,000 social media users responded in disgust.
Here were just a few of their justifiably angry responses:
"Hard working NY families can barely afford to send their children to college and most end up with staggering debt but the Governor thinks giving free college to those who have chosen to break the law get free college so they won't break the law again? What a moronic idea. Takes the gun rights away from honest law-abiding citizens now wants to pay for education for criminals. He's got it real wrong. How about paying for college for law abiding New Yorkers instead."
- Harold Schultz
"It sounds like we would be better off IF we where jobless? Then commit a little crime for a paid for vacation and free education. The new Merica.... What a great gob they are doing."
- David Texido
"Here I sit struggling to pay back over $30,000 a student loan debt then you have the nerve to try to say you want to send some prisoners to school for free. Somebody need to talk to me about waving my student loans so that I can be debt free and still have an education."
- Lisa Fanin
"So, if I commit a felony, the state will pay for me to get a college education? How does NYS reward their law abiding, working, tax paying citizens?"
- Tracey McLarney Westfield
"If I were ready to vote for him this would change that idea."- Annette Young
Is Cuomo's latest initiative the last straw for frustrated New Yorkers?