Corruption and sexual harassment have dominated the headlines in Albany this year and, as a result, some major legislation priorities may fall by the wayside including the state's Dream Act, which remains a top priority for Latino lawmakers. NY1's Zack Fink filed the following report.
This week, the State Assembly passed the Dream Act which allows immigrant students who are here illegally to apply for state tuition assistance to attend college. But sources tell NY1 the legislation is not a priority for the governor this year, which means he's unlikely to pressure the State Senate to pass it.
"We think we should never wait when it comes to education of young children who are really eager to go to college," said State Assemblyman Francisco Moya of Queens.
In March, Latino lawmakers in the State Assembly threatened to vote against the budget unless it contained funding for the Dream Act. Ultimately, some relented with the promise that the bill would be considered this session.
But these are strange days in Albany. Lawmakers have been arrested and charged with corruption, like State Assemblyman Eric Stevenson who was back in his seat Thursday. And the speaker, Sheldon Silver, is under fire for the way he handled the Vito Lopez sexual harassment scandal.
Lopez resigned this week.
Members of the State Assembly describe a very tense mood in the chamber these days, and sharp disagreements over issues like the Dream Act are that much more pronounced.
"We have so many American citizens and legal immigrants that are struggling to pay tuition in this country. And to take taxpayer dollars in the form of tuition aid to give it to those who are here illegally and undocumented is wrong," said State Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis of Staten Island.
Hoping to put the focus back on issues this week after a dramatic apology Monday for the Lopez scandal, Speaker Silver held a rally Tuesday to announce his support for the Dream Act.
"The Dream Act is not about pitting citizens who were born here against those who were not," Silver said.
Earlier this week, Governor Cuomo would not respond directly to lawmakers who have said the governor will have a "Latino problem" if he does not support the Dream Act this year.
"Whether I support it is not the question. It's whether it's going to be passed this session. And it has not been a topic of conversation yet," Cuomo said.
The Cuomo administration maintains that the governor's poll numbers among Latino voters remain high. But for Latino lawmakers who consider the Dream Act their top priority, they believe this is the issue that could change that.