ALBANY, NY- The state Assembly plans to propose more money for community colleges in its one-house budget proposal, set to be released Friday.
Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan, and his conference also want to allow illegal immigrants to access the state's college Tuition Assistance Program, according to details of the proposal obtained by Gannett's Albany Bureau.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who presented his proposal Jan. 22, suggested level funding for community colleges and did not include the funds for immigrant students.
Assembly Democrats propose raising funding for community colleges by $150 per full-time equivalent student. The colleges, which belong to the State University of New York system but are funded partly by localities, get state money based solely on enrollment.
This year, community colleges are getting $2,272 per full-time student. The Assembly wants to give the colleges $2,422 per student for 2013-14.
The conference also wants to put $25 million toward helping immigrants go to college in New York.
Katherine Tabares, a Colombian immigrant who is studying to be a lawyer, thanked the Assembly in a statement Friday from the advocacy organization Make the Road New York.
"Even though I was in the top 10 of my graduating class with a 3.9 GPA, I was not able to obtain a scholarship that will finance my college career," Tabares said. "In the fall of 2013, I will be transferring to Hunter College. However, due to my immigration status, there is no funding offered by the state government for me to continue my higher education journey.
"This is why the Tuition Assistance Program must also be offered to undocumented students through the NYS Dream Act bill," she continued.
The Assembly Higher Education Committee passed the bill last month.
Senate Republicans have opposed allowing immigrants to use public dollars for tuition help but have indicated they might support arranging private scholarships.
It is unclear whether the Senate plans to include increased funding for community colleges in its budget proposal, which is also due out as early as Friday.
Senate GOP spokesman Scott Reif said his chamber plans to act on its one-house budget Monday.
"While the Senate's one-house budget is not yet finalized, we continue to view higher education as a priority," Reif said in an email.
Jessica Bakeman/Gannett Albany bureau