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Compromise to defeated Dream Act emerges in NY budget talks

State legislators are considering an innovative compromise that could provide college aid to illegal immigrants brought to the United States as children, despite defeat a week ago of the Dream Act proposal that intended to do just that.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan said Wednesday that the New York State Catholic Conference supports a new proposal that would expand their top priority of an education tax credit to encourage donations to Catholic and other nonpublic and public schools at the elementary and secondary levels.

Dolan said the latest proposal also would create a tax credit for college students in need, apparently regardless of their citizenship status.

The state Senate’s Republicans who share control of the chamber had opposed the Dream Act, which would have used state funds to pay for college financial aid for illegal immigrants brought to this country as children. But the new proposal wouldn’t use public funds. Instead it would provide a tax credit to encourage private donations to scholarships that could be directed to undocumented immigrants.

Legislative staffers confirmed the proposal is being discussed in closed-door budget negotiations between Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Senate and Assembly leaders.

 “At this time in Albany, there is discussion of expanding this education tax credit concept to include scholarship funding for college students in need, including those students who might not otherwise qualify for other assistance opportunities,” the cardinal said. “We support this expanded concept and urge its passage.”

 The proposal would expand the education tax credit sought by Dolan. His proposal would provide a tax credit to encourage private donations that could be used for tuition scholarships to nonpublic schools as well as for arts, sports and other funds devoted to public schools. The proposal is strongly supported by Senate Republicans.

Providing college aid to illegal immigrants is strongly supported by the Assembly’s Democratic majority and the Independent Democratic Conference, which shares majority control with the Republicans in the Senate.

Budget negotiations resume Thursday.

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