Earlier this week, the Legislature passed the DREAM Act, a bill to allow the children of illegal immigrants to apply for the states Tuition Assistance Program (TAP). When bills skirt federal law, and place a massive, undue burden on resident taxpayers, the priority has been placed in the wrong area.
The Assembly Minority Conference has been, and continues to be, a staunch advocate for adequate education funding and creating opportunities for everyone to succeed. However, immigration laws must be respected, and New York State residents already have enough costs dampening their economic outlook. There are processes in place to become a citizen, pay taxes and enjoy the benefits of other New York State residents. They must be respected.
The states (TAP) and Excelsior Scholarships are not free. They cost millions of dollars, and in the interests of equity, should be prioritized for documented, legal residents. Students in New York already face some of the worst debt burdens in the nation. These resources would be much better allocated to relieving that pressure, and helping to drive down the cost of education, generally.
NEW YORK STUDENTS ARE BEING CRUSHED BY DEBT
According to a recent report, New Yorks students are graduating with an average debt of more than $30,000. Another study showed New York, along with Pennsylvania and Michigan, has the worst student loan debt per capita in the nation. These statistics are troubling on their own; compounding them with expensive, ill-conceived legislation is ludicrous.
The Assembly Minority Conference has offered a number of solutions to reduce the debt burden facing students and make education more affordable. Among some of the proposals are:
- Increase the household income cap threshold;
- Provide an additional $500 to every TAP recipient and increase the maximum
- Make graduate programs eligible for TAP; and
- Reduced taxable income for student loans.
The DREAM Act is a misguided policy that makes for a far better talking point than practical solution. We must respect the law, and we must respect the processes in place to ensure our state functions fairly. It is my hope a more comprehensive solution to the complex immigration problem presents itself soon. Until then, we must avoid legislation that may look good on paper, but does more harm than good.
What do you think? I want to hear from you. Send me your feedback, suggestions and ideas regarding this or any other issue facing New York State. You can always contact my district office at (315) 781-2030 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.