To many on the right and possibly even the center, New York Andrew Cuomo seems like a standard issue liberal/progressive Democrat. To many New Yorkers and national Democrats however he is a fairly moderate Democrat. In 2014 he fought back a primary challenge from unknown law professor Zephyr Teachout but not before she racked up roughly a 1/3 of the vote and set up a battle between state Democrats and the liberal Working Families Party.
During his second term Cuomo has worked hard to sure up his left-wing with a series of policy proposals including a hike in the minimum wage which just went into effect with the new year.
Up for re-election in 2018, Cuomo is kicking off the new state legislative session with a major headline grabbing proposal…free tuition for state residents at state run 2 and 4 year colleges for anyone whose family earns less than $125,000 per year.
“”It should be a wake-up call to this nation. To say if you really want to be competitive globally, we have to have the best-educated workforce, and that means we have to have college for every child, man or woman, who wants to attend,” Cuomo said at an event in Queens. “Other countries have already done it. It’s time this country catches up. It’s time this country says to every citizen, you can be whatever you want to be in America.”
Under Cuomo’s Excelsior Scholarship proposal, students enrolled in SUNY or CUNY would be eligible to participate in the state Tuition Assistance Program, which awards grants that do not need to be paid back. The new program’s funding would cover remaining tuition costs after TAP and federal grants are subtracted.
Other costs of college on top of tuition, namely $12,590 for room and board at a four-year school, which would not be covered.”
If the idea sounds familiar it’s because it was a main plank in Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders’ campaign. And if you don’t think Cuomo’s proposal is aimed at a wider audience than New Yorkers, consider Sanders was on hand for the announcement which was made in Cuomo’s home borough of Queens in New York City.
Cuomo’s play for the Sanders wing of the party both at home and nationally is interesting when you consider his 2012 Democrat opponent Teachout was endorsed by Sanders (he even campaigned for her) in her failed 2016 bid to win a congressional seat from upstate New York.
Donald Trump won’t be sworn in as President for more than two weeks but the 2020 machinations are already underway.