NY Lawmakers Refuse Bill Providing Free Tuition to Gold Star Families After Giving $27 Million to Illegals


Just one week after the passage of a bill which would set aside $27 million dollars annually to support tuition aid for illegal immigrants, New York lawmakers have voted to hold a bill which would provide similar financial supports to a large number of the state’s military families.

A piece of legislation introduced by Republican Assemblyman Stephen Hawley and cosponsored by 23 members of the New York State Assembly, Bill A02991 would have provided free tuition, room and board to immediate family members of American serviceman killed while on active duty.

The bill was held by a 15 to 11 vote in the Assembly’s Higher Education Committee, likely killing the bill — as it will probably not see motion to a floor vote in this 2019 legislative session, which includes just 25 more days between now and mid-June.

“It’s disgraceful,” Republican Assemblyman Gary Finch told Syracuse News.

“Soldiers who lay down their lives and make the ultimate sacrifice represent the best of us. The children they love so dearly deserve access to the opportunity and promise that is the hallmark of this country,” Finch added, “I can’t imagine what’s in your heart when you vote ‘no’ on a bill like this.

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And the number of families like those Finch described who currently reside in the state of New York and would be eligible for such support is small.

According to Republican Assemblyman Will Barclay, the number is likely less than 500 and would cost the state next to nothing when considering this year’s $175 billion budget.

Barclay was as uncertain as Finch when it came to the topic of what was in the hearts of those who voted against the bill. To Barclay, it was likely nothing but partisanship.

“We get so caught up in majority and minority issues here, we can’t see the forest through the trees,” Barclay said.

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Conservative commentators and lawmakers were quick to note that Democrat Governor Andrew Cuomo and the legislature had not shown the same apprehensiveness when faced with the question of devoting so much of the 2019 budget to illegal immigrant tuition waivers in recent weeks.

“To the dreamers, I say this: Today we do this for you. The door to higher education is open to all,” Democrat Assemblywoman Carmen De La Rosa had said when the ‘Dream Act’ passed the Assembly.

To state Republicans, this week’s vote was the active slamming of that same door in the face of military families.

The New York GOP — and various others — tweeted on Thursday afternoon, harshly rebuking the decision.

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Democratic chair of the Higher Education Committee, Deborah Glick, has declined to comment on the vote — in which just four of nineteen Democrats on the committee broke with her and voted in favor of moving the measure forward.

According to the New York Post, Cuomo addressed the pushback at an event on Wednesday evening, saying, “I believe people who serve this nation and who made the ultimate sacrifice and lost their lives, I believe their families should be shown the same respect and we have a moral obligation.”

Cuomo made note of the fact that getting the bill passed before the end of the legislative session would require legal changes. A lot of cohesive effort would have to be made for the bill to be passed at this point, but indicated that he would support such change if it were presented.

“The legislature’s not going anywhere, so there’s plenty of time to pass that law,” Cuomo said.

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Andrew J. Sciascia was the supervising editor of features at The Western Journal. Having joined up as a regular contributor of opinion in 2018, he went on to cover the Barrett confirmation and 2020 presidential election for the outlet, regularly co-hosting its video podcast, "WJ Live," as well.
Andrew J. Sciascia was the supervising editor of features at The Western Journal and regularly co-hosted the outlet's video podcast, "WJ Live."

Sciascia first joined up with The Western Journal as a regular contributor of opinion in 2018, before graduating with a degree in criminal justice and political science from the University of Massachusetts Lowell, where he served as editor-in-chief of the student newspaper and worked briefly as a political operative with the Massachusetts Republican Party.

He covered the Barrett confirmation and 2020 presidential election for The Western Journal. His work has also appeared in The Daily Caller.