NY Dream Act Passes Assembly, Heads to Senate

ALBANY (AP) -

New York’s Assembly passed a bill Tuesday that would open state tuition assistance programs to students in the country illegally, and now the measure moves to an uncertain future in the Senate.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said $27 million will be included for the Dream Act in the Assembly’s budget proposal and he’s asking the Senate to pass the bill this session. The bill also passed the Assembly last year but died in the Senate.

Opponents argue that using taxpayer money to fund tuition assistance for students in the country illegally takes away both opportunity and funds from students who live here legally.

A key in the Senate will be co-sponsor Sen. Jeff Klein, co-president of the chamber and member of the Independent Democratic Conference, a group of four breakaway Democrats that controls the Senate with the Republicans. His group supports the measure and has been working for passage.

The bill has 27 Democratic sponsors in the Senate. That’s five votes short of the majority needed for passage. Democratic senators Ted O’Brien, Tim Kennedy, Joe Adabbo and Bill Perkins are the only remaining Democrats who haven’t signed onto the bill. Perkins was the lead sponsor for the Dream Act in 2011.

Klein shares power with Republican Sen. Dean Skelos, and both can stop a bill from reaching the floor. Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that if the bill passes the Senate, he would sign it into law.