- Associated Press - Saturday, March 22, 2014

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - A bill that would open state financial aid to students in the country illegally appeared dead following a narrow defeat in the Legislature, but growing support for New York’s Dream Act has given advocates and lawmakers renewed hope it could be included in the final state budget.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito on Saturday told a conference organized by Hispanic members of the Legislature that they are backing the measure. Although de Blasio did not call for the bill to be included in the state budget, Mark-Viverito urged Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Legislature’s leadership to add it.

“We ask for the leadership of our governor to make sure that this does get put into the budget and make the dream a reality,” Mark-Viverito told a crowd of more than 100 people at a news conference.

Hours before the start of this weekend’s Somos el Futuro conference on Friday night, members of the Legislature along with advocates for the Dream Act were invited to a private event at the Governor’s Mansion and came away hopeful that they have Cuomo’s support for the measure as budget negotiations continue.

“He said it was round one in a 15-round fight,” said Queens Assemblyman Francisco Moya about Cuomo’s remarks.



After the bill failed on the Senate floor Monday by two votes, Cuomo - who in the past had not been vocal on the legislation - released a statement saying he was “disappointed” and would continue to work to build support for the legislation.

Momentum for the bill to be included in the final budget has been building despite its initial defeat and finger pointing between mainline Senate Democrats and the breakaway Independent Democratic Conference, which controls the Senate in an alliance with Republicans.

Of the four legislative leaders negotiating the $140 billion fiscal spending plan due April 1, three are public supporters of the legislation. Senate Republican leader Dean Skelos, of Long Island, has not supported the Dream Act, but has indicated he’s open to a program funded by private donors, not taxpayers.

According to a report by Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, the Dream Act would cost $25 million and benefit 8,300 students in the City University of New York and State University of New York systems.

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