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NY now seems agreeable to free college tuition for Gold Star families

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 16 April 2019 at 9:13 am

Last week Democrats in Albany voted against legislation to expand free college tuition for children or dependents of military personnel who died while performing official military duties. The issue gained a lot of media attention, even President Donald Trump tweeted about it on Friday:

“In New York State, Democrats blocked a Bill expanding College Tuition for Gold Star families after approving aid for illegal immigrants,” Trump tweeted. “No wonder so many people are leaving N.Y. Very Sad!”

On Monday, Democrats and Republicans in the State Senate announced a bipartisan bill to expand access to scholarships for community colleges and state universities. The program would be for dependents of military service members who died while in performance of their duties. Those duties are yet to be defined and the potential financial costs haven’t been determined.

“I am thrilled that Albany Democrats have now decided that the children of our brave military members who perish in service to our great nation are worthy of the same privileges they afforded to illegal aliens residing in our state,” State Sen. Robert Ortt, R-North Tonawanda, said in a statement. “Although this is a victory, what has transpired over the last few days is a rude reminder of where New York Democrats’ priorities lie. The tremendous pressure from Senate Republicans, veterans’ advocacy organizations, the media, and everyday citizens is a great reminder that the people of New York have their priorities right even if Democrats in Albany do not.”

The new legislation would take effect beginning April 1, 2020. That gives the Legislature time to estimate the costs that would be added to the MERIT scholarship program.

State Assemblyman Steve Hawley, R-Batavia, sponsored the bill in the Assembly that Democrats didn’t allow to come out of committee. Assemblyman Felix Ortiz, D-Brooklyn, is expected to introduce the bill in the Assembly that matches the Senate legislation.

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