ALBANY, N.Y. — Supporters of the Dream Act were disappointed when Governor Cuomo did not mention the legislation in his State of the State address or include funding for it in his proposed budget.
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who has been a strong supporter of the bill, says it could still happen.
"Not everything belongs in the budget, truthfully. I think the budget should be a budget. That happens to be an item of expense that will cost the state some money," said Silver, D-Assembly Speaker.
Republicans are opposed to the Dream Act.
"It's the wrong way to use state resources, to use taxpayer money to give tuition assistance to those who are in this country illegally when we have American citizens who have piled on debt," said Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis, R-Staten Island.
Advocates for the Dream Act say there is another hurdle. They claim four Senate Democrats oppose the legislation, and it cannot pass without them.
"I think it's an important step for them to do their job in getting their members completely on board on an issue that impacts many many of their constituents as well," said Assemblyman Francisco Moya, D-Queens.
Sources tell us that labor unions are pressuring the four Democrats to support the legislation, and that may make the difference in changing their minds. The Senate's Independent Democratic Conference also supports the bill, and they control the Senate's agenda in a coalition government with Republicans.
"It's an issue that not everyone understands the importance of. All four members of the Independent Democratic Conference are co-sponsors of the legislation. Now we need more votes," said Sen. Jeff Klein, D-Senate IDC leader.
In a statement a spokesman for the Senate Democrats said:
"As with any progressive idea, the vast majority of votes for the Dream Act reside with the Senate Democrats. We hope Senator Klein is able to convince his Republican partners to allow a vote."
Senate Democrats maintain that even with all their members' support, the bill would still fall short of the 32 votes needed for passage, but advocates for the Dream Act counter that without the full support of the Democratic Conference first, they cannot reasonably make the case to Republicans for their support.