Albany, N.Y. (3/18/13) Assemblyman Kieran Michael Lalor (R,C,I-Fishkill) and Senator Greg Ball (R,C,I-Patterson) hosted a press conference with a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers from the Assembly and Senate to propose tuition reductions for servicemen and women attending SUNY and CUNY schools who are facing the suspension of their tuition assistance from the military due to sequester-mandated cuts.
"Many young men and women enlist because of the tuition assistance," said Lalor. "We made a promise to them. If Washington can't do the right thing, find the right places to cut and continue the assistance that was promised, New York needs to step up. This is the right thing to do. We owe it to our troops. Let's take this moment to embrace a spirit of bipartisanship and honor a promise to our troops."
Cutting tuition assistance for those that protect our country is absolutely disgraceful. The men and women in our armed services deserve our full support, and nothing less, said Ball. I am happy to stand with Assemblyman Lalor and introduce this bill to show our troops that they have our full support. While some in Washington might have abandoned them to make a political statement, our servicemen and women can rest assured that they have a partner here in New York State.
The Army, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard all have announced that they will be suspending tuition assistance programs for active duty and reserve servicemen and women. The cuts come as part of the sequester-mandated reductions. The suspension means that troops currently enrolled in college classes and pursuing degrees will not have the funding to complete their programs. The tuition assistance program is a benefit that is often touted by recruiters.
The Lalor-Ball proposal would cover active duty and reserve personnel who are currently enrolled in SUNY or CUNY schools and using the military tuition assistance program. The state would provide tuition reductions that would match the missing tuition assistance. The tuition reductions would continue until the military reinstates the tuition assistance or the student graduates.
Senator Bill Larkin (R-C-I- Cornwall-on-Hudson) said, "These men and women volunteered and served in a time of war, with many being placed in harms way, some losing friends, and even returning with physical or emotional scars. Their sacrifices cannot be met with broken promises. That is why I stand with my fellow Legislators to propose that New York continue to honor that promise by offering tuition reductions to those affected by the sequester."
"Our men and women in uniform deserve any tuition assistance we can provide to them, said Senator Simcha Felder (D-Brooklyn). It is the least we can do for our active duty and reserve personnel when they regularly risk their lives to protect us. Our servicemen and women should not be the latest victims of the dysfunction in Washington.
Senator Hugh T. Farley (R, C, I - Schenectady) said, As a veteran, and as a former college professor, I was terribly disappointed and distressed that the federal government would suspend their tuition assistance programs. I appreciate and applaud our military personnel for their service to our country, and believe we should be doing all we can to help them with their educational pursuits. I am pleased to join Senator Ball in advancing this important proposal to assist these service persons and protect them from these federal cutbacks.
"It is a dereliction of duty on the part of our leaders in Washington for their inability to forge compromise and unwillingness to follow through with the promises made to our brave men and women in uniform," said Senator Carlucci. "This bipartisan legislation is a sound investment for our military personnel who are determined to finish their studies, graduate, and succeed in today's economy. New York State will take the lead where others have not. I commend Senator Ball for his leadership on this important issue and look forward to working with him to ensure that our troops receive the quality education that they have earned."
My son begins officer training with the Marine Corps at Quantico this summer. He is joining a proud and honorable tradition of brave men and women who have fought to protect this great nation. We, as a society, have pledged to honor their sacrifice and to support them when they return from duty. I am very proud of my son, as I am proud of all who answer the call to serve in our armed services. I am committed to providing increased educational opportunities to our service members so that may continue to excel in their service in the military and as future leaders in our society, said Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney (R,C,I-New Hartford).
Keeping our promises to the men and women serving our country is paramount. New Yorks fighting forces have sacrificed greatly on behalf of our nation and this legislation is a deserved measure of thanks. As a veteran, I salute their dedication and service, said Assemblyman Dave McDonough (R,C,I-Merrick).
For more information, please contact Chris Covucci at 845-309-2654