Assembly leader urges Senate to pass Dream Act, says no consensus on free college for prisoners

Feb 26, 2014
Originally published on February 26, 2014 8:46 am

Assembly Democrats passed a one-house version of the Dream Act, a bill to give college aid to the children of undocumented immigrants, and urged the Senate to follow suit.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who calls the Dream Act a top priority, blamed opposition among Senate Republicans for the measure’s failure to advance in the upper chamber. And he says the breakaway Independent Democrats in the Senate, who are in a coalition government with the GOP, need to work to bring the bill to the floor for a vote.

“We’re hopeful that this year, facing election, there are enough Senators who will see there is wisdom in what we are sending them,” Silver said.

Senate Republicans have said they have concerns about the program's cost to taxpayers.

Speaker Silver says while his Democratic members feel strongly about offering tuition aid to children of immigrants, they do not have a consensus on a proposal by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to offer free college to inmates in state prisons.

“It’s always good to look at reducing recidivism,” said Silver, who personally supports the governor’s proposal. “Many of our members support this, and there are others who have expressed reservations.”

Silver says he’ll discuss the issue in a closed door party conference in the coming weeks.

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