Assemblyman John Ceretto, R-C-I-Lewiston, came out in opposition to Gov. Andrew Cuomo's plan to offer a free college education to prisoners. On Tuesday, Ceretto's camp said the proposal is unfair to law-abiding citizens who must go into debt to pay for higher education. Ceretto said he would not vote for a budget that gives a free college education to inmates and does not properly fund the state's education system or give more state college tuition aid to law-abiding students.
"While I appreciate the need to rehabilitate criminals and help them become productive members of society, we cannot do it at the expense of people who have not broken the law. It's wrong to provide criminals with something that everyone else must go into extreme debt to afford," Ceretto said. "To think that our state would consider giving criminals a free college education before helping working-class families is hard for me to fathom, and I will fully oppose this proposal."
Ceretto said there are much better uses for state money, including tax relief for working-class families and increasing funding for the Tuition Assistance Program, or TAP, which would help law-abiding college students pay their way through school. Instead, he said, state leaders are pushing to give free tuition not only to criminals in this proposal, but also to illegal immigrants through the DREAM Act.
"The cost of a college education is higher than it's ever been, and working-class families trying to make a better life for their kids simply cannot afford it without going into debt. I would much rather help them pay for college than people who have broken the law," Ceretto said. "These working-class families are saving money and getting by with less in bad economic times in order to give their kids a brighter future. These are the families who need and deserve tuition relief, and I'll be fighting to make sure that they get it."