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Libous, Crouch Talk State Budget

State Senator Tom Libous and Assemblyman Cliff Crouch talk State Budget and Inmate Tuition.
We begin with State Senator Tom Libous as the keynote speaker at a Commerce Chenango luncheon Friday afternoon.

He was fresh off helping pass the State Senate's version of next fiscal year's spending plan for New York State. The senate finally put the finishing touches on its budget at 4:00 am this morning. Libous says lawmakers will work hard to pass a budget early or by the April 1st deadline. A lot of negotiations will be done in the meantime. For instance he's opposed to giving inmates free college education, but favors Governor Andrew Cuomo's proposal for tax relief.

Tom Libous says, "The governor would like to put money in the budget for educating prisoners. We don't want to do that. We're not going to do that and we're going to fight against that. But at the same time we both want a property tax program and a freeze on property taxes. They're similar, but different and we'll eventually work those out in negotiations."

Republican Assemblyman Cliff Crouch also says he's opposed to the college education for inmates proposal. He says some people in his district are riled up over the plan. The proposal is aimed at certain prisons. It's estimated to cost upwards 60-thousand dollars to house an inmate per year. Supporters of the plan say educated inmates are less likely to commit crimes again. However, state taxpayers would fund the idea, some of whom are struggling to pay their own bills.

Cliff Crouch says, "I had one woman call me and she said, 'What do I tell my two children? Should I tell them to go rob the convenience store so they can get their college education paid for? This is crazy.' I have to agree. I understand what the Governor is saying, if someone coming out of prison has an education they have a better chance for a job. But, number one you have to have a job and we're struggling to create jobs in the Southern Tier. When you put it in context of the entire budget, we are still struggling to fund our rural schools."

Cuomo has said previously that the plan makes financial sense, because more people could stay out of prison once released. Libous says there are already training programs at correctional facilities. State Senator Libous also addressed the medical marijuana issue. He is battling prostate cancer and says he would not be opposed to the idea, because of what he has gone through.

Tom Libous says, "I am on chemotherapy every 21 days. Some times the 5th, 6th and 7th days can be pretty nasty. Anybody who has been on or is on chemo knows what I'm talking about. If the side effects can be deterred by some sort of pill that involves some sort of medical marijuana then that would be a good thing. But i'm adamantly against recreational marijuana. I am adamantly against smoking it for medical purposes, because the doctors I talked with said they would not agree with smoking it."

Libous says he would only favor the pill form of the drug, not smoking it.
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