New York State Sen. Mark J. Grisanti, R-I-Buffalo, announced Tuesday he has launched an online petition to gather public opposition to a recent proposal by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to give taxpayer-subsidized college classes to inmates at 10 state prisons.
The petition, "Say 'NO' To Free College For Prisoners," went live today.
"I have received numerous phone calls, emails and Facebook messages related to this initiative, and the overwhelming percentage of them are negative," Grisanti said. "People in our state want their voices heard. I plan to gather the names of people from Western New York and across this state who sign this petition against giving free college to prisoners in order to show Gov. Cuomo and my colleagues on both sides of the aisle in Albany that there is significant opposition to utilizing the tax dollars of hardworking New Yorkers in such a manner."
Individuals interested in signing the petition may visit www.SenatorMarkGrisanti.com and click on the link for the petition. There is also a link on Grisanti's Facebook page. A direct link to the petition can be found at http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/say-no-to-free-college-for-prisoners
Cuomo announced the initiative will cost $5,000 per year per inmate. There are currently approximately 54,500 inmates housed in state prisons.
"I support rehabilitation and reduced recidivism, but not on the taxpayer's dime, when so many individuals and families in New York are struggling to meet the ever-rising costs of higher education," Grisanti said.
He is working to restore Tuition Assistance Program funds that had previously been cut for graduate students.
"I am fighting to restore the availability of graduate-level TAP funds for middle-class taxpayers," Grisanti said. "I believe that we should put the needs of hardworking, law-abiding citizens who are positively contributing to society first, and I will continue to fight for the reinstatement of TAP funds before I even begin to entertain the idea of supporting this program."
Grisanti currently represents the 60th Senate District, which includes parts of the City of Buffalo, the north towns and the south towns.