Reps react to Gold Star Education funding approval

PLATTSBURGH — North Country state lawmakers are pleased to see the approval of Gold Star Education funding for families of veterans who died in service of the nation.

The legislation provides for free college tuition and room and board to dependents of military veterans who died in service to the United States.

“I am very proud to have played a part in delivering the education funding our Gold Star Families deserve,” Assemblyman Daniel Stec (R-Queensbury) said in a statement.

“By taking action last week, raising awareness and standing up for what’s right, we rallied the support of the governor and even the president of the U.S. I am beyond thrilled to announce that this funding will be provided through Executive Order.

“This is a huge victory for service men and women and their families.”

Assemblyman Billy Jones (D-Chateaugay) was also celebrating the victory.

“As previously stated, I fully support any effort to expand the Gold Star Education funding, and I am glad to see action taken on it,” he said in a press release.

“The expansion of the Military Enhanced Recognition and Tribute (MERIT) scholarship honors our obligation to families who have tragically seen their loved one give the ultimate sacrifice to protect our freedoms. It lets these heroes’ families know just how much they mean to us, and gives back to those who have given so much to our country.”

Magnitude of loss

State Sen. Betty Little (R-Queensbury) said she is glad the program was moved forward after it looked like it might not gain approval.

“A free SUNY education is the least our state can do for Gold Star families, demonstrating our understanding and appreciation of the magnitude of their immense loss,” she said.

“No one wants to be a Gold Star Mother, and this is the least we can do.”

Stec had urged his constituents to sign a petition asking the Assembly Majority to bring the bill to the floor for a vote before the end of this year’s legislative session.

It had been held in the Higher Education Committee last Tuesday by Assembly Democrats.

The funding will be provided by virtue of an executive order from Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

“This is legislation that everyone can support. It doesn’t matter what political party you belong to,” Stec said.