The $153 billion budget passed by the state of New York on Sunday night includes a $163 million provision for free college. On "Pure Opelka" today, Mike Opelka discussed Governor Andrew Cuomo's Excelsior Scholarship, which will cover tuition expenses (but not room and board) for students of families making less than $125,000 a year.
Opelka said "I could support free college if it was in fields where we needed people," but was concerned that New York is "socializing education," as many opportunities such as this frequently result in degrees verging on identity politics and philosophy.
New York's Republicans slipped a requirement into the legislation that scholarship recipients "agree to live and work in New York four years or be forced to it pay back." Mike wondered, "Who is going to police this and make sure these people stay in New York?" He asserted that another layer of government will need to be created to regulate the whereabouts of Excelsior scholarship recipients.
"I contend we know those people will never stay for four years," Mike said, suggesting instead that two years of military service or some other public service should have been required to assure recipients earn their scholarships without the requirement to stay in New York.
Interestingly, progressives are also unhappy with this scholarship according to Slate. They lament the lack of coverage of living expenses, which is often the most expensive part of going to school in New York. They also believe the requirement to stay in the state for as many years as they received the scholarship to be restrictive, as well as having the properties of a loan because it requires "repayment" in the form of residency.