Thursday, April 10, 2014

It Was All A Dream

(Courtesy:  NY Times)
Last month, the State Senate rejected a controversial bill to allow New York’s illegal immigrants to obtain financial aid for college. The bill, known as the NY Dream" Act (NYDA), would authorize undocumented students who graduate from High School in New York to apply for college financial aid for either private or public colleges. Had this bill passed, New York would have been the fifth state to enact such a "Dream" Act.


Jeff Klein, who runs the Senate's Independent Democratic Conference, pushed the NYDA to the floor for a vote without passage. The chances of any survival for it to be passed were up in the air. The bill failed 30-29, two votes shy of 32 required to pass. Democrats needed two of the 28 Republicans to jump ship to obtain their goal. Not only did that not happen, but two Democrat senators voted against the NYDA. The two Democrats were one from Rochester who sits with the Democrat caucus, while the one from Brooklyn sits with the Republican caucus.

Republican Senators cited fiscal impact and the language of the bill for the reasons of every Republican to voted no. Some Republicans argued the proposal would use state taxpayer money to help families not following immigration laws while others also argued that legal constituents are in need for TAP assistance first. If the NYDA would have passed, State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli estimated that it would cost over $20 million to cover for financial assistance, breaking down to about $5,000 a year per student enrolled.

NYDA's failure shows weakness by Governor Andrew Cuomo, who could have made this bill a priority like he did with the SAFE Act. He even could have calling for a special election for the two vacant Senate seats earlier in the year - those two votes could have tipped the scales and NYDA would have been signed into law.  

But where was the leadership? With a weak Democrat senate that lacks commitment to enact resolutions they preach from the back benches and a tenuous "majority" coalition, a leader would have cobbled together support to reach his goal.  

Democratic weakness translates into a better chance for the Republicans to retain (or, take back as it were) control of the Senate and possibly the Governor's mansion. Republicans can use the "yes" votes against upstate Democrat as making yet another empty promise that led to failure.  

The Senators who voted against the NYDA actually understand the term "illegal" and those "illegal" immigrants don’t vote because they cannot. Why should legislators reward illegal behavior? Having NY residents paying excessive taxes to reward people for breaking the law doesn't make sense - especially when children of citizen struggle - they deserve to achieve the "dream". 


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