Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law one half of the so-called California Dream Act, which gives undocumented college students access to privately funded scholarships. But the companion bill, which would provide access to public state-funded financial aid, including Cal Grants, has yet to make it to the Senate floor. From KPCC's Multi-American blog:
It's a milestone just that AB 130 has come as far as it has, with similar legislation sponsored by [Assemblyman Gil] Cedillo having been vetoed three times by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. It was the easiest to pass of the two bills. The prospects for AB 131, which would involve the use of state funding, remain unclear. Opponents have raised questions about how the state would pay for the student aid while it struggles through a financial crisis.
The estimated annual cost of AB 131 ranges between $32 million and $35 million, according to Cedillo and his staff, but some of that money is already budgeted as Cal Grants funding for qualifying students who can't currently access it. According to Luis Dario Quiñones, a legislative aide for Cedillo, about $13 million dollars would come from money set aside each year for low-income students whose grades qualify them for Cal Grants. The difference would come from other sources.
The money involved in these programs is not huge, but the politics sure is. Look at what Republican Assemblyman Jim Silva had to say about the legislation in an OC Register oped:
I believe that the privilege of state financial aid should be extended only to California citizens who have played by the rules and worked hard to earn a college degree. Every additional dollar the state spends on illegal immigrants is a dollar it cannot spend on students who are here legally. Such an action will only act as another magnet to encourage more illegal immigration because of all the generous taxpayer-funded benefits that California offers.