ALBANY, N.Y. — New York state will grant free state tuition and room and board to the families of New York military members who are killed or disabled while on duty.
Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the move Wednesday, days after Republican lawmakers accused the Democrat-led state Assembly of blocking legislation to expand scholarships for Gold Star families.
Cuomo said there's no need to wait for lawmakers to act, so he has directed education officials to begin covering tuition costs for dependents of fallen or permanently disabled service members.
The state already covered tuition for dependents of service members killed or disabled in combat or in training - but that didn't cover all military deaths or injuries.
Cuomo says the expansion will cost "several million dollars" but that it's a small price to honor Gold Star families.
Republican leader John J. Flanagan issued this statement:
We are pleased that Governor Cuomo has identified statutory language that will allow Gold Star families to access free college tuition and room and board at SUNY and CUNY schools. Even better, the families of these heroes won’t have to wait another minute to receive the benefits they deserve, as some Democrat politicians in Albany wanted them to do.
I commend Senator Ortt and many members of the Senate and Assembly Republican conferences who shed light on the need to address this important issue. There is no doubt that we wouldn’t be getting a result today without their will and determination to achieve one.
Families of individuals who paid the ultimate price will have their lives changed forever as a result of their sacrifice. As a state, this is the least we can do to honor their service, their commitment and their bravery, and to make life just a little bit easier for their sons and their daughters.