In one of his first major initiatives of the new legislative session, Governor Cuomo announced today a plan, called the Excelsior Scholarship, to offer free tuition at state colleges to hundreds of thousands of middle and low-income New Yorkers.
The plan will allow any college student who has been accepted to a state or city university in New York whose family earns $125,000 or less annually to become eligible. The new scholarship will supplement existing loan and grant programs, and a million New York families are estimated to qualify according to sources in Cuomo’s administration. It is planned to be rolled out in 2019.
Governor Cuomo has pursued a more progressive agenda in recent years, championing liberal ideas such as a $15 minimum wage and a statewide paid family leave act, both of which were passed into law during the last legislative session.
His newest initiative would face the challenge of passing through the state’s Assembly and Senate, coming at a time of tension between the Governor and the legislature over a failure to pass a pay raise in 2016, among other issues of contention. Whether the Democratic held Assembly and Republican held Senate wish to champion the Governor’s latest initiative in exchange for concessions, such as a legislative pay raise, remains unknown.
However, other issues such as 421-a legislation, ethics reform legislation, and strengthening state legislation to counteract the incoming presidential administration and its conservative agenda remain on the table and are sure to be bargaining chips during the upcoming legislative session, set to begin tomorrow.