Assemblyman Tim Donnelly Promises DREAM Act Referendum; Calls AB 131 "Morally Wrong"

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By Joe Guzzardi

Joe is a CAPS Senior Writing Fellow whose commentaries about California's social issues have run in newspapers throughout California and the country for nearly 30 years. Contact Joe at joeguzzardi@capsweb.org, or find him on Twitter @joeguzzardi19.

The writer's views are his own.

October 12, 2011

On Sunday evening I spoke to Assemblyman Tim Donnelly about Governor Jerry Brown and the California DREAM Act. Brown signed AB 131 on Saturday despite heavy resistance from his critics and at least some of his supporters.

The Los Angeles Daily News, for example, backs a federal DREAM Act but in a recent editorial urged Brown to "put aside" the California version because it does not address citizenship and will not allow the students to legally obtain jobs, get a driver’s license or vote.

In conclusion, the editorial correctly noted that:

"There is also a lingering concern over the increased costs to the state at a time when California officials are navigating a financial crisis. The California Student Aid Commission estimated that the bill could incur a cost of $13 million in its first year of implementation. That is a cost we just can't afford on a bill that only provides a short-term solution to a huge immigration issue." [California DREAM Act Fails to Address the Fundamental Issue of Citizenship, Editorial, Los Angeles Daily News, September 7, 2001]

Donnelly assured me that he plans to press ahead with a voter referendum that would overturn Brown’s bill which in 2013 would give out of state tuition rates to illegal aliens. He’s confident that his referendum would be heavily supported by California voters.

As Donnelly asked me:

"Why are the dreams of illegal aliens more important than the dreams of American kids?"

Predicting that his referendum would pass just as Proposition 187 did in 1994 (with 59 percent of the vote), Donnelly added that AB 131 is "morally wrong" and that there’s a "tsumani of discontent" over Brown’s bill.

Among the reasons that Donnelly anticipates voter outrage are that even U.S. military living out of state who apply to California universities and colleges would not qualify for the same lower tuition as illegal aliens. And California citizens who plan to attend UC universities have faced years of soaring tuition fees.

In the UC system, during this academic year tuition increased by nearly 10 percent and another hike of 16 percent for 2015-2016 is under consideration. [Tuition Increases by 10 Percent; May Rise Again Next Year, by Rebecca Horowitz, The Guardian, October 2, 2011]

Donnelly observed that even though less than 24 hours had passed since Brown’s signature, his email, Facebook and Twitter accounts as well as his voice mail were full of messages from outraged Californians.  The next few months could provide an important victory for taxpayers who are fed up with the endless alien entitlements.

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