Rahm and the Illinois DREAM ACT

May 16, 2011

There’s an excellent chance that Illinois will pass its own DREAM ACT when it goes to the state House now that the Senate has sent it on with bipartisan support. The thing is – it’s important to understand that this bill has very little to do with immigration.

In effect, if and when it passes the House (Gov. Quinn has already committed to signing it), the state will loosen eligibility for state-sponsored tuition savings programs (that is, previously ineligible folks will be able to put their own money – not state revenues, not new taxes – into special savings accounts for college), school counselors will get some training in actually doing their job better, and the state will help administer what, in the end, will be a private scholarship fund.

Of significance is Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s support on the matter. During the mayoral campaign, Emanuel proposed a very similar program. If and when this bill becomes law, here’s how Mayor Emanuel can help: By using all that fundraising prowess of his to kickstart the program with significant contributions, perhaps even one of his own.

This is a financial program, after all, that will only help immigrant students  -- most of whom are ineligible for any other kind of college aid -- if there’s money in the kitty.