It’s a sign of hope for the rest of us.
Many states are taking matters into their own hands after the succession of Republican victories in November and beyond. Seeing a need to address concerns the GOP refuses to, states are creating programs, filing lawsuits, and standing up to what they believe are unlawful mandates from the Trump administration. We saw Washington state’s Attorney General get the Muslim ban shut down in court. Four states have declared themselves sanctuaries for refugees and undocumented immigrants. Now, in the latest workaround to bypass the federal government with the liberal policies that voters both need and want, New York has just become the first state in the U.S. to provide tuition-free education at both 2- and 4-year public colleges.
Governor Andrew Cuomo, considered by many to be a leading candidate for President in 2020, announced the plan just after the beginning of the year. He included it in a budget that was passed over the weekend by the NY Assembly and late last night in the NY Senate. Having cleared both houses, Cuomo expects to sign the bill shortly.
“Today, college is what high school was — it should always be an option even if you can’t afford it.”
Starting in the fall quarter of this year, students whose families earn less than $100,000 a year will be eligible for tuition-free status. It won’t save them the expense of room and board, but at an average of $6,500 a year at four-year schools, the tuition break will save the equivalent of more than a minimum wage job’s yearly pay.
Given the importance of a college degree, the move comes as a welcome addition to the overwhelmingly liberal — and successful — policies in New York State. Detractors clench their teeth at the initial cost, but it’s hard to find anyone outside Republican lawmakers in D.C. who disagrees that a better-educated population leads to a better economic picture, no matter where you are in the country.
It could be an outline for other states to follow suit.
Already, Rhode Island is considering a similar bill. Many cities and even some states have made community colleges free, and the call for more is rising. Free college was one of the driving factors behind the success of the Bernie Sanders campaign among young people during the 2016 primaries. Now it appears the popular proposal appeals to more than millennials.
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