Written by: Joseph Spector
ALBANY — Some state lawmakers Tuesday criticized Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan to use public money to fund college for prisoners.
Cuomo has faced opposition to his proposal 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.
Sen. Greg Ball, R-Patterson, was among senators Tuesday to announce a petition drive to block the initiative. He and other opponents, including Republican Sen. George Maziarz of Niagara County, said the state shouldn’t be using public money for prisoners at a time when residents are struggling to pay for college education for themselves or their children.
“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.
Ball said he has proposed legislation that would establish a state income-tax deduction on student loan payments.
It’s unclear how much Cuomo’s program would cost and how it would impact several partnerships around the state where colleges work with nonprofit groups to provide college courses to prisoners.
Cuomo said the program would start at 10 prisons, and colleges would apply to participate next month. Cuomo expects to include the proposal in his amended budget plan this week. (ARTICLE)