Bay Ridge

Cucco pushes for free college tuition

Proposal aimed at helping SUNY, CUNY students

July 27, 2016 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Assembly candidate Kate Cucco in Brighton Beach. Photo courtesy of Kate Cucco for New York
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When Kate Cucco is asked what she did on her summer vacation, she can give a one-word answer: campaigned.

Cucco, who is running in the Sept. 13 Democratic Primary in Brooklyn’s 46th Assembly District (AD) and is trying to unseat incumbent Assemblymember Pamela Harris, is spending her summer going door to door from one end of the Assembly district to the other, talking one-on-one with voters.

“I love it,” she said. “You meet great people and everyone has an interesting story to tell.”

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The 46th AD includes parts of Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Coney Island, Brighton Beach, Bensonhurst, Gravesend and Sea Gate.

The district, which encompasses million dollar homes in Bay Ridge and New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) apartment buildings in Coney Island, is diverse. But Cucco said there are issues that serve as a common thread. “Everyone, no matter what part of the district they live in, wants the same things; safe streets, a good education for their children and a good quality of life,” she said.

In an effort to impress voters, Cucco has released a 70-point policy plan.

Over a cup of iced coffee at the Bridgeview Diner on Third Avenue in Bay Ridge on Tuesday, Cucco talked to the Brooklyn Eagle about her policy plan and her campaign.

“This policy booklet has some bold ideas that lets working and middle class families know exactly the type of policies I plan on advocating for should I get elected to the Assembly,” Cucco said.

Her ideas include everything from free college tuition to tax credits for caregivers.

“When I was coming up with the policy ideas, it was a mix of issues that constituents would bring up to me when I was working for an assemblymember and issues I would see myself that needed to be addressed,” said Cucco, who served as chief of staff to former Assemblymember Alec Brook-Krasny when he represented the 46th AD.

No. 15 on her list is an idea to establish free tuition for students attending schools in the State University of New York (SUNY) or the City University of New York (CUNY) systems. In order to qualify, students would have to score well on SAT or ACT exams and maintain at least a B average.

The idea came partly out of her personal experience, Cucco told the Eagle.

“I’m 31 years old and I’m still paying off my college loans,” she said. “I think many people are in the same boat.”

The plan would do more than just give students a break, according to Cucco, who said it would also boost the economy. “They would have more money in their pockets and they would be spending that money in their communities,” she said.

No. 54 on her list would establish a caregiver tax credit for people taking care of an ailing family member. “I’ve seen it in my family. Caregivers wind up paying for things out-of-pocket. We should ease their burden by giving them a tax credit. They deserve a little relief for the invaluable service they are providing to a loved one,” Cucco said.

Cucco, a native of Ohio and a graduate of Ohio State University, served as Brook-Krasny’s chief of staff from 2008 until 2015.

Brook-Krasny, who is a Democrat, resigned from his Assembly seat in July of 2015 to take a job in the private sector. Harris, a retired correction officer, won Brook-Krasny’s seat in a special election in November of 2015.

The winner of the Sept. 13 primary will run in the general election on Nov. 8 and face the likely Republican candidate, Lucretia Regina-Potter.


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