It’s “startling” the Senate is yet to approve legislation that would give the children of undocumented immigrants access to state tuition assistance, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver on Tuesday said.
The Democratic-led Assembly is expected to once again approve the Dream Act legislation later this afternoon, and will insert the measure into its one-house budget proposal as it did last year.
The program that is expected to cost about $27 million, Silver said.
At a news conference flanked by members of his Democratic conference and advocates for the bill [including Make the Road New York], Silver said their is a pro-business argument to be made for the bill, namely that the private sector will benefit from a more educated workforce.
“It’s startling the Senate is yet to take up this legislation,” he said. “This is not a state that can afford to waste bright young minds.”
The picture is a bit more complicated in the Senate, which is controlled by Republicans and a breakaway conference of four Democrats that have formed a majority coalition.
Several Democratic lawmakers have expressed concerns with the measure, though Sen. George Latimer recently announced they would support the bill.
Supporters of the bill in the Assembly, including Queens Democrat Francisco Moya, said they were yet to identify potential “yes” votes on the Republican side of the aisle in the state Senate.
Silver remained optimistic the measure would be included in the final budget agreement, due by April 1, though he would say if he would hold out for the legislation to be included in the final spending plan.
“I don’t have the privilege of negotiating a budget with you,” he said to a reporter.
As for Gov. Andrew Cuomo, advocates were enthused when he indicated last week he would sign the legislation if it is approved the Senate this year. Still, Cuomo has not emphasized the Dream Act in his public announcements, nor did he include the measure in his budget or 30-day amendments.
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