(Albany, NY) The Senate Democrats are stepping up in response to President Trump’s plan to eliminate the AmeriCorps national service program. To address this situation, the Senate Democratic Conference announced a series of bills to create the New York State Service Corps. The new state organization would continue the long-standing tradition of public service established by the AmeriCorps and would extend student loan forgiveness to participating New Yorkers.
“Public service programs encourage investment in communities and incentivize Americans to help their neighbors in need. With Donald Trump proposal to defund the successful AmeriCorps program, we need to take bold action on the state level,” Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said. “That is why the Senate Democrats are pushing to create the New York State Service Corps to pick up the slack caused by President Trump’s reckless plan. I applaud the Senate Democratic Policy Group Chair Senator Daniel Squadron as well as Senators Jose Serrano and Toby Ann Stavisky for their innovative bills to implement this program.”
Bill Sponsor and Senate Democratic Policy Group Chair, Senator Daniel Squadron said, “Service makes America great, but Donald Trump is threatening our nation's service program. By expanding our state service corps, we can help with student loan debt, while giving young people the chance to serve and learn. I urge the Senate to act on these proposals to make a Service Corps a reality. Thank you to Leader Stewart-Cousins, Democratic Policy Group members, and Senators Serrano and Stavisky.”
Bill Sponsor, Senator Jose Serrano said, “New York State is home to some of the most culturally and historically significant destinations anywhere in the nation. They provide tremendous educational opportunities, and serve as a major economic engine as well. My bill will create a commission of experts and a state history fellowship program to preserve and promote New York’s rich history. At a time when the federal government appears to be turning away from our commitment to the arts, culture and history, it’s important that New York steps forward and takes a stand on these critically important issues.”
Bill Sponsor, Senator Toby Ann Stavisky said, “Donald Trump’s plan to eliminate AmeriCorps funding is disrespectful to the men and women who volunteer their time and services to actually make America great again. We cannot deprive these generous individuals serving New York of their well-deserved education grants for college. That is why I introduced legislation that would act as a safety net, should President Trump’s misguided proposal come to fruition. We cannot let the more than 5,200 New Yorkers serving in AmeriCorps positions be live in fear of losing the grants they depend on so much.”
President Trump’s budget eliminates the federal AmeriCorps program – a domestic national service program modeled on the PeaceCorps that allows young people to work on public service projects in exchange for help in paying for college. In New York, this program annually enables some 5,200 people to perform public service projects and receive grants for tuition or loan repayment. An additional 17,000 New York State seniors participating with AmeriCorps to perform community service in high-needs areas around the state could see their service programs cut under President Trump’s proposals.
The Senate Democratic legislation to implement the New York State Service Corps includes:
- Senate Bill S.146, sponsored by Senate Democratic Policy Group Chair, Senator Daniel Squadron, to establish the New York State Service Corps.
- Senate Bill S.3452, sponsored by Senator Jose Serrano, to establish the New York state history fellowship program.
- Senate Bill S.6440, sponsored by Senator Toby Ann Stavisky, to establish service corps education grants to be used for tuition costs or loan repayment.
New York’s existing Excelsior Conservation Corps had 41 individuals in last year’s graduating class. The Senate Democratic proposal would substantially expand service corps opportunities, dramatically increase the number of New Yorkers able to participate, and ensure education grants for tuition or loan repayment in the face of Trump cuts.