Western New York, state Senator Rob Ortt, R-North Tonawanda, didn’t take long to turn his attention to the 2017 legislative session. Ortt held a press conference at SUNY Brockport Monday, to announce his higher education package.

“A lot of these issues, when you talk about it in a broad sense, need to be handled at the federal level, but there are things we can do in New York state,” he said.

Ortt named four bills he will support next year. They include legislation that requires colleges to provide more transparent information to prospective students.

“When you’re talking to an 18-year-old, making sure they understand if you’re going to go for this degree, this is what the placement rate is, this is what you can expect to earn and this is what you can incur in debt,” he said.

Other ideas include launching a state-funded youth apprenticeship program, a new scholarship for students in the top 20 percent of their class who go to community college and restoring New York’s Tuition Assistance Program for graduate students.

“In many cases you need that Master’s degree, you need that doctoral degree, if necessary, and we want to make sure that those have some financial assistance tied to it, as well,” he said.

The bills the Republican support tend to focus more on getting families and students to re-examine traditional higher education models and plan ahead to make it more affordable. One idea he didn’t promote was one we heard plenty about on the presidential campaign trail: free college for all.

“I don’t think that’s financially feasible. It sounds great. I don’t think it’s financially feasible in the long haul,” he said.