Wash. Dream Act Unlikely to Clear Senate

By Liz Jones

Supporters of the so-called Washington Dream Act plan to make one more uphill push in Olympia Tuesday. The measure would extend state financial aid to eligible college students who are in the US illegally.

Hopes for the bill dwindled this weekend as a key state senator spoke out against the measure. At issue is a pool of state money for low-income college students.

Republican Barbara Bailey chairs the Senate Higher Ed committee. She says the grant program is already too underfunded to add more students to the mix.

Bailey: “This isn’t just about whether you’re here legally or not. It’s also about the money."

Bailey says the measure would make a financial promise that can’t be kept. Last year, the state turned down more than 31-thousand eligible students who applied for this funding.

The measure passed the state House in March. It’s now in Bailey’s Senate committee. But she’s has no plans to move it to a vote.

Supporters point out Bailey backs a different bill that would extend this same money to students at Western Governor’s University. That’s an online college in Washington.

School chancellor, Jean Floten, says she’s glad her bill is moving forward. And she’s pulling for the Dream Act, too.

Floten: “In a perfect world, I think that both of these populations should be served. Those students are here because of actions that their parents have taken and they’re really, truly lost between two worlds.”

Immigrant advocates expect a few hundred supporters at the statehouse in Olympia Tuesday, as the bill faces a deadline in Bailey’s committee.

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