Influencing Legislation and Legislators for the Lord Jesus Christ.

Assembly GOP Advocacy Aids Gold Star Families

Earlier this month, the New York State Assembly Higher Education Committee voted 15-11 to kill the Gold Star Family Bill.

The Gold Star Family Bill (Bill S.193-Ortt/A.2991-Hawley) would expand an existing law that provides free college tuition at SUNY and CUNY schools to surviving spouses, children, and dependents of New Yorkers who have died, become permanently disabled, or gone missing while serving in combat as members of the U.S. Armed Forces. The Gold Star Family Bill would provide such tuition to the survivors of servicemembers who died while performing their military duties, even if they were not in combat.

The Assembly Higher Education Committee voted, 15-11, to kill the Gold Star Family Bill. The vote tally was as follows (importantly, “aye” votes were votes to kill the legislation, while “nay” votes were votes to advance it):

Democrats

  • Glick (Aye)
  • Gottfried (Aye)
  • Englebright (Aye)
  • Cahill (Aye)
  • Lifton (Aye)
  • Cusick (Aye)
  • Lupardo (Aye)
  • Stirpe (Nay)
  • Fahy (Aye)
  • Pichardo (Aye)
  • Simon (Aye)
  • McDonald (Aye)
  • Bichotte (Aye)
  • Hyndman (Aye)
  • Epstein (Aye)
  • Griffin (Nay)
  • Romeo (Aye)
  • McMahon (Nay)
  • Buttenschon (Nay)

Republicans

  • Smith (Nay)
  • Fitzpatrick (Nay)
  • Garbarino (Nay)
  • Ashby (Nay)
  • Reilly (Nay)
  • Salka (Nay)
  • Walczyk (Nay)        

A spokesperson for Assembly Democrats argued that the bill was rejected in committee because it involved an expenditure of state funds and, therefore, ought to have been considered within the context of the state budget. Albany Update does not believe this to be true. It is quite likely that the real reason that the bill was rejected is that it was sponsored by a Republican (Asm. Steve Hawley, R-Batavia). Asm. Will Barclay (R-Pulaski) estimated that the bill would affect no more than 500 students and would cost approximately $6 million per year. By way of context, the 2019-2010 State Budget calls for $175 billion in spending. If Asm. Barclay is correct, the cost of the Gold Star Family Bill would amount to less than one one-hundredth of one percent of the total cost of the budget.

Following determined pushback from Assembly Republicans that included an online petition (and following criticism from President Donald Trump), Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared his support for the bill and a Democratic senator (Sen. John Brooks, D-Massapequa) introduced his own version of it. The Governor then went even further, taking executive action to implement the provisions of the Gold Star Family Bill.

New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms congratulates Assembly Republicans for their effective advocacy for the Gold Star Family Bill. Without that advocacy, it is unlikely that this worthy proposal would have been implemented. In recognition of the profound debt that we owe to our fallen servicemembers, the least the state can do is to promote the well-being of their families by providing them with a tuition benefit.