NEW YORK (FOX5NY.COM) - Long Island is receiving $18.5 million in funding to fight the war on MS-13. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that locking up gang members isn't the answer. He signed a bill to help prevent vulnerable teens from joining the gang in the first place.
"Let's stop the young people from getting caught in the gang pipeline to begin with," Cuomo said.
The funds are included in the state's new budget. $16 million will go towards programs including after-school activities, mental health and language support services as well as community and law enforcement initiatives.
The rest of the money will help combat gun violence.
"Social and education programs to engage at-risk youth, to cut off the recruiting by gangs," Cuomo said, listing some initiatives, "after-school programs in at-risk areas, job training."
The vicious MS-13 gang is responsible for more than 20 murders on Long Island in the past two years.
Evelyn Rodriguez, who lost her daughter to gang violence, said she hopes the money makes a difference.
"It's a long haul but we're going to keep fighting until everything is secure," she said.
Other parents to children in the Brentwood school district said they appreciate what the governor is doing but questioned why he waited so long. They also said the district is still owed foundation aid from years back.
"We need money. We need to hire the professionals necessary to help facilitate the needs of our kids," Liz Cordero said. "And we're not doing that. So this is a tiny Band-Aid."
Students and parents who in the past have been hesitant about speaking out are ready to take a stand. A rally is planned on Friday to demand the state invest more money in their schools.