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Advocates turn to budget after NY DREAM Act denied
Advocates want the DREAM Act to survive as part of the state budget after the state Senate on Monday failed to pass the bill that would allow immigrant students who are living in the country illegally to get financial aid.
The DREAM Act failed by two votes, with every Republican voting against the bill, as well as a Brooklyn Democrat who caucuses with the GOP and a Democratic senator from Rochester.
Lucia Gomez of the advocacy group La Fuente said the failure of the DREAM Act to pass won't hurt its chances at the budget negotiating table. She added that Gov. Andrew Cuomo calling the DREAM Act a priority bolstered the bill's chances. The deadline for the state to pass a budget is April 1.
"Three out of the four negotiators of the state budget have all come out in strong support of DREAM," Gomez said. "That indicates to me that there is a lot of support behind this from key players who make decisions, including the head of the state."
Democratic Sen. Liz Krueger, of Manhattan, also felt there is still an opportunity for the bill to become reality.
"There could be DREAM Act in the budget, so don't give up," she said in an interview on Capitol Pressroom Tuesday.
Meanwhile, as DREAM Act supporters look to budget negotiations, the vote caused finger-pointing between the traditional Democratic caucus and a breakaway faction of Democrats that share power with the Republican conference called the Independent Democratic Conference.
"We delivered 99% of the votes on the floor. The bipartisan coalition delivered no Republican votes, not even the Democrat who sits with them," Krueger said in reference to Sen. Simcha Felder, who was elected to his Borough Park district as a Democrat but sides with the GOP.
"The IDC delivered five votes -- 16% of their coalition," she added. "Pretty damn embarrassing."
Sen. Jeff Klein, the senate's co-leader and head of the five-member IDC, said he delivered on his promise for a vote and blamed Democrats for failing to get their side behind a core piece of their agenda.
"It's very, very difficult to convince Republicans to vote for something that's called a progressive piece of legislation like the DREAM Act, and it's so important, if Senate Democrats don't wholeheartedly support it," he said.
Klein also threw cold water on the idea of bringing the DREAM Act to the budget.
"If there aren't the votes to pass it with Democratic members of the state senate," he said, "why would we have enough votes to pass it in the budget?"