Members of the Assembly’s Latino caucus are upset the final budget agreement does not include funding for the Dream Act. But as YNN's Zack Fink explains, they're split over whether they would uniformly vote down that portion of the spending plan over the issue.
ALBANY, N.Y. -- The Dream Act would allocate state money for children of illegal immigrants to attend college. The issue has been a top priority for Latino lawmakers.
"We need to do this for the community. We can't talk about economic development while we are leaving out the intellectual capital of thousands of students who are graduating from our public schools who have the potential to be the leaders of tomorrow," said Assemblyman Marcos Crespo.
Funding for the Dream Act is not in the budget. And Thursday afternoon in a heated meeting outside the Assembly chamber, members of the Latino caucus argued over whether to vote against the part of the budget that would have contained Dream Act funding. The problem is that same bill also includes an increase in the minimum wage, which members support.
"There is discontent. The number one priority for the Latino community has been the Dream Act. We continue to fight for it," Assemblyman Francisco Moya said.
Several sources tell us that in a meeting with the governor's top staff, members said that if the governor fails to support the Dream Act, he will have a "Latino problem."
Crespo said, "We need to take a position that our community cannot just wait for other to come around. We have a responsibility, we have been talking about this issue all year long. Now we have a responsibility to deliver on that and make a statement."
According to Crespo, Governor Cuomo has failed to prioritize the Dream Act. The Latino caucus was hoping to stay united on this issue.
"We definitely want to stay together. We see the repercussions of voting no and what would entail for our community. So definitely we are looking at a sensible solution to do this," Assemblyman Nelson Castro said.
Governor Cuomo's office points put that his favorability rating among Latinos is high, roughly 70 percent. Members of the caucus say they were given assurances by the governor's people that they will work hard to get the Dream Act passed by the end of the session in June.