State committee votes on DREAM Act bills

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The California State Assembly Committee on Appropriations voted Wednesday on two bills that together comprise the California DREAM Act, resulting in the approval of AB 130 and the suspension of AB 131.

Following the vote, AB 130 - which would provide university-funded grants to undocumented students - will move to the assembly floor for a full vote, while AB 131 - which would provide state grants to undocumented students - was placed under suspension to be voted on again in late May, according to Chuck Nicol, principal consultant with the committee.

Though former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed versions of the act last year, Gov. Jerry Brown has said on several occasions that should the act come to his desk, he would choose to approve it.

"We are very pleased that the bill passed," said Assemblymember Gilbert Cedillo, D-Los Angeles, who authored the bills. "Unfortunately, some of my colleagues are still unable to shed their partisanship, but we need to do what's best for all the people of California."

In a 12-3 vote, the committee approved AB 130, which would allow the UC, CSU and Community College systems to provide financial aid to undocumented students from their financial aid reserves and will have no direct fiscal impact on the state.

The suspended AB 131 would allow undocumented students to be eligible for state financial aid, including Cal Grants, which may explain its suspension, according to Karen Humphrey, executive director for the California Postsecondary Education Committee, who added she fully supports both bills.

"In the current budget environment, anything with a fiscal impact is going to be set aside," Humphrey said. "I don't think anyone is surprised that 131 is in the suspense file."

Although AB 130 did receive majority approval, Assemblymember Tim Donnelly, R-Twin Peaks, expressed several reasons for his opposition to the bill.

"We have limited resources; these measures would expand the pool of people competing for those resources and will essentially act as one more incentive for people to come here illegally," Donnelly said in an email. "While, I was not at all surprised by the result of today's proceedings, I am disturbed to see the agenda of some legislators is not to address the State's most pressing problems, but instead to advocate policies that continue California's slow slouching toward Socialism."

However, despite the immediate fiscal impact of the act, several assemblymembers, including Cedillo, cited economic reasons in their decision to support it.

"Every educator, business person and CEO talks about a great need by 2025 for new college graduates, for people who will be working in these industries as leaders," Cedillo said. "In our workforce, the baby boomers are aging out. It is important to me, to California and to the future of this economy to have these students contribute to the work force and the global economy."


Contact Jessica Rossoni at [email protected]

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