Of the bills signed by California Gov. Jerry Brown, none is more controversial than the DREAM Act. Since signing it, the governor has faced relentless criticism.
The bill mandates that beginning in 2013, undocumented students are eligible to receive state financial aid to attend California community colleges and universities.
During a question and answer session at the "State of the State" conference Thursday, sponsored by the Milken Institute, Governor Brown defended his decision, saying it will ultimately benefit the state’s economy.
"Having a top kid become a college scientist or professor is better than sweeping floors, " said Governor Brown. "When we make a scholarship available to somebody who can create the next iPad, or invent the next vehicle, or the next energy system, or become the next great teacher — that’s a good thing. Anybody who says ignorance is to be preferred to education and intelligence, I have to say I can’t go along with that."
Critics of the DREAM Act argue that it prioritizes undocumented students over the state economy and debt crisis. They say the measure comes just as the governor is asking for tax hikes to bolster state revenues.
Republican Tim Donnelly, R-Hesperia, has vowed to repeal the measure by placing the issue before voters in the form of a ballot measure.