Republican lawmakers are having something of a field day with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan to allow inmates to earn college degrees while in prison.

GOP Sens. Greg Ball of Putnam County and Mark Grisanti of Buffalo on Tuesday both released online petitions opposing the effort, which Cuomo unveiled during caucus weekend at the Wilborn Temple First Church of Christ.

The governor’s office has pointed to the high recidivism rate in state prisons which impacts a disproportionate number of minorities. Offering higher education training to inmates is meant to cut down on recidivism and the number of inmates, Cuomo argues.

The annual per-inmate cost of incarceration is $60,000, while the annual cost of educating an inmate is about $5,000, according to the governor’s office.

But the move has stirred Republicans in both the Assembly and Senate to oppose the program, which will be offered at 10 undetermined prisons around the state.

“In a world of finite resources, where we are struggling to find funding for education for our kids, the last thing New York State should be funding is college tuition for convicts,” Ball said in a statement. “As some are unveiling ‘Attica University’, millions of New Yorkers right now are wondering how the heck they are going to pay student loans and help their kids go to college. Why not help them? While I understand the need for counseling and rehabilitation, free college tuition for prisoners is a slap in the face to hard working New Yorkers that work multiple jobs and take out exorbitant student loans to pay for higher education.”

Grisanti, a lawmaker who has had a publicly good relationship with the Cuomo administration had been one of the first lawmakers to oppose the plan, who released a statement Sunday evening.

The Buffalo Republican indicated his opposition was being driven by constituent outrage over the proposal.

“I have received numerous phone calls, emails, and Facebook messages related to this initiative, and the overwhelming percentage of them are negative,” Grisanti said. “People in our state want their voices heard. I plan to gather the names of people from Western New York and across this state who sign this petition against giving free college to prisoners in order to show Governor Cuomo and my colleagues on both sides of the aisle in Albany that there is significant opposition to utilizing the tax dollars of hardworking New Yorkers in such a manner.”

Assemblyman Kieran Michael Lalor in a separate statement said the number of repeat offenders needs to be dealt with, but a college program isn’t the answer.

“We have to cut recidivism rates, but we shouldn’t ask taxpayers to pay more and more to do it,” said Lalor. “Governor Cuomo seems to be saying we already spend $60,000 yearly per prisoner, what’s an extra $5,000 for his college plan. That’s the wrong attitude. We should be asking why we spend so much and how we can cut it. If we can cut it by 10%, we can look at offering student loans to prisoners. Because they’re not good credit risks, we’ll garnish a percentage of their wages to pay taxpayers back. But, this shouldn’t be a handout. Taxpayers can’t afford more handouts.”