Supporting a policy without paying for it is called an empty promise

Much has been made recently of the controversy in the Legislature over the DREAM Act/REAL Hope Act. This legislation will make children of illegal immigrants who grew up here in Washington eligible to apply for state need scholarships.

As with many issues that involve immigration and legal status, many people have strong opinions on this topic. I agree with those who say that these students should not be punished for a situation over which they had no control. Our society as a whole benefits when further education is a possibility for more of our kids.

As to the controversy in Olympia, like so many disputes in politics, both sides are armed with talking points, and the real fight is over who deserves more of the credit. House Democrats passed their version first and wanted to know why the Senate hesitated to make this bill a reality.

The only problem with that is, the House Democrats’ version didn’t come with any funding attached. It’s pretty easy to pass a bill when you don’t have to pay for it, but some might call that an empty promise.

Considering that the state’s need scholarships already have a waiting list, the responsible thing to do if you’re going to add this policy goal is to also pay for it. The Senate’s version included $5 million so new students can be added to the rolls. That’s the smarter way to go.

— Rob McKenna

Incorporate REAL Hope into state’s Dream Act

The Democratic-controlled Washington state House calls it the Dream Act. The state Senate, where minority Republicans have the upper hand, thanks to two crossover Democrats, calls it the REAL Hope Act, with REAL being an acronym for Real Educational Access, changing Lives.

Whatever the nomenclature, supporters call it a chance for undocumented students to get financial aid for college, a top priority for immigration advocates in this state. It passed the House last year but never got a Senate vote. This year, the House passed HB 1817 71-23 on the first day of the session; the Senate waited until late January before approving on a 35-10 vote its version, SB 6523, that successfully addresses shortcomings in the House bill. A bill with the key Senate provisions warrants final legislative approval and enactment into law.

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Rob McKenna
Rob served two terms as Washington’s Attorney General, from 2005 to 2013. He successfully argued three cases before the U.S. Supreme Court and negotiated three of the largest consumer financial protection settlements in national history, all involving mortgage lending and servicing. He is a recognized leader in the development of consumer protections on the internet, in data protection and privacy regulation.