By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Military personnel who return home from fighting wars in this country’s name and want to go to college shouldn’t have to pay full tuition costs, according to Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis.
Malliotakis (R-CI-Bay Ridge-Staten Island) said giving soldiers a break on the costs of tuition is the least the country can do for them. She and state Sen. Marty Golden (R-C-Bay Ridge-southern Brooklyn) have signed on as co-sponsors of a bill in the State Legislature called the Commitment to Military Education Act. LegislativeGazette.com reported that the bill would offer tuition reductions for servicemen and women attending State University of New York or City University of New York schools who are facing the suspension of their tuition assistance from the military due to sequester-mandated cuts.
“Our greatest duty as Americans is to support our heroes in the armed forces and do everything in our power to honor the sacrifices they make for our country,” Malliotakis said.
“As the federal government remains in gridlock, this is the least we can do on the state level to help our servicemen and women obtain an affordable education. This is an issue that crosses party lines, and I am hopeful that the bipartisan support behind this measure will ensure that state government does right by its courageous veterans,” she said.
Golden agreed that it’s a bipartisan issue. “Everyone in New York can agree that our veterans deserve to be exempt from politics. This legislation assures them of the education that they risked their lives for and so richly deserve,” he said.
Assemblyman Kieran Michael Lalor (R-Duchess County), an Iraq war veteran who helped draft the bill, said the state should keep a promise it made to veterans to assist them with the costs of their education.
“Many young men and women enlist because of the tuition assistance. We made a promise to them. If Washington can’t do the right thing, find the right places to cut and continue the assistance that was promised, New York needs to step up,” Lalor said. “This is the right thing to do. We owe it to our troops. Let’s take this moment to embrace the spirit of bipartisanship and honor a promise to our troops,” he said.
The Army, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard have announced that they will be suspending tuition assistance programs for active-duty and reserve personnel. Those currently enrolled will not receive tuition assistance for future classes.
Malliotakis said the bill would honor a promise made to servicemen and women and allow those already enrolled in SUNY or CUNY schools to finish their degrees through tuition reductions matching the missing federal assistance.