Fishkill, NY Assemblyman Kieran Michael Lalor (R,C,I-Fishkill) today announced a counter proposal to Governor Cuomo's plan to offer free college classes to prisoners. Lalor is calling on the state to cut per prisoner spending by 10%. Once those savings are reached, the state would offer student loans to prisoners, not the free college courses Governor Cuomo is proposing.
"We have to cut recidivism rates, but we shouldn't ask taxpayers to pay more and more to do it," said Lalor. "Governor Cuomo seems to be saying we already spend $60,000 yearly per prisoner, what's an extra $5,000 for his college plan? That's the wrong attitude. We should be asking why we spend so much and how we can cut it. If we can cut it by 10%, we can look at offering student loans to prisoners. Because they're not good credit risks, we'll garnish a percentage of their wages to pay taxpayers back. But this shouldn't be a handout. Taxpayers can't afford more handouts."
Lalor continued, "If Governor Cuomo believes this is important, let's cut spending per prisoner by 10%. That respects taxpayers who don't want to pay for handouts for prisoners. It also allows New York to deal with recidivism. Cut spending by more than the cost of the college program and give some of that back to taxpayers. Then we'll loan the money to the prisoners. The loan is important. It's not a handout, but a hand up. It teaches prisoners responsibility. It says they're not just entitled to this, they have to work for it. That will do more to cut recidivism than any handout."
"Throwing more and more money at a problem is never the answer," Lalor added. "We can only offer this program if we can save tax dollars up front. Possible long-term savings aren't enough. Let's save the money right now. New Yorkers don't like Governor Cuomo's proposal. They're rightfully outraged that Cuomo is asking them to pay even more in taxes to give a free degree to prisoners. If the governor is serious about cutting recidivism, he can do it, but he has to save tax dollars, right now, in the process. New Yorkers are willing to offer a second chance to prisoners. But we're not going to pay more for it, and the prisoners will have to work for it."
Lalor's legislation would require the state to cut per prisoner spending by 10% before the college program could begin. That 10% would be more than the cost of Governor Cuomo's plan, delivering savings to taxpayers. The state would have to provide the courses in the most cost-effective manner possible, using online courses whenever possible.