Cuomo washes his hands with the Dream Act

Albany once again turned its back on thousands of youths whose only dream was to get ahead. The NY Dream Act, which would have enabled the Dreamers to receive financial aid for their college education, died in the Senate on Tuesday.

Being just two votes short of green-lighting the bill highlights how little interested Gov. Cuomo was on the initiative. Is the governor taking his re-election for granted, and that’s why taking care of the needs of minorities is not among his priorities?

“I will continue to work with supporters, stakeholders and members of the legislature to achieve this dream…,” were Cuomo’s words after yesterday’s vote. The question is: Why he didn’t work harder before the vote and put all his political capital behind the NY Dream Act, like he did with legislation on same-sex marriage?

Once again, New York fell behind compared to others. Washington, California, Illinois, New Mexico and even ultra-conservative states like Texas have shown better leadership when it comes to taking care of undocumented youths.

However, Cuomo can still redeem himself instead of simply washing his hands like Pontius Pilate and blaming the legislature.

A window is still open for the state Dream Act, and Cuomo still has a chance to prove that he governs for everyone. When he meets with the speaker of the Assembly and Senate co-presidents Dean Skelos and Jeff Klein to iron out a final budget, he must include funding to help the Dreamers.

According to studies, the state Dream Act would need a $25 million annual budget, which would account for 2% of the state’s academic budget or a mere 0.01% of the overall budget. The state wouldn’t have to break the bank, because this is an almost insignificant portion of its budget.

The measure will only be available to students who want to attend college and qualified through the same regiment as other new yorkers. It will help the very students, New York has already invested on and educated in its public schools, or about $19,076 per pupil a year according to the census data for 2011.

This bill will help thousands of students graduate from college. With a college education, these students can then get better paying jobs and pay higher taxes into the state’s coffers, giving back as taxpayers. The Dream Act NY makes sense, because in the end, it will yield a return on investment.

Cuomo must take into account he is losing support among Latinos. A recent Marist Poll shows that, among Latino registered voters, Cuomo’s job approval rating dropped 21 points, going from 62% in November to 41% now.

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