WNYT.com

Legislators want to offset sequester effects for military

Posted at: 03/18/2013 5:45 PM
Updated at: 03/18/2013 5:55 PM
By: Bill Lambdin

ALBANY - As part of the benefits package to active duty and reserve personnel, the Defense Department had offered reimbursement for college tuition costs.

State legislators looking into the program estimate roughly 20 per cent of the 35-thousand eligible military personnel in New York used the tuition assistance, which paid 250 dollars per credit hour.

Money that suddenly was taken away in the aftermath of the federal sequester.

"What are we doing here?" asked Assemblyman Joseph Borelli (R - Staten Island). "We have an opportunity to say, as a state, we are better than this. We honor commitments to our service members."

New York State legislators, mostly Republican, Monday proposed requiring the State and City university systems credit the lost federal tuition money. Basically it would allow active duty military to take classes at public colleges for free.

Since the schools are already offering the courses, legislators argue there are no direct costs to the state.

"We're not asking to hire more professors, build more buildings, hire more staff, it's a marginal cost as opposed to a fixed cost," said Assemblyman Kieran Michael Lalor (R - Fishkill), the bill's sponsor in the Assembly.

A call was placed to the communications office of the State University of New York seeking comment on the bill. By deadline Monday NewsChannel 13 had not received a response.