A GOP state assemblyman today launched an effort to ask voters to repeal the California Dream Act signed into law this weekend by Gov. Jerry Brown.
Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, R-Twin Peaks, filed referendum papers to overturn Assembly Bill 131, which allows undocumented immigrant college students who already qualify for in-state tuition rates to receive state-funded financial aid, including Cal Grants.
"I think that it is perhaps the biggest mistake that Governor Brown has ever made...other than unionizing public employees," Donnelly, a former Minuteman Corps of California leader, told The Bee over the weekend.
Once cleared for circulation, Donnelly will have less than three months to collect the roughly 505,000 valid voter signatures needed to put the referendum on the 2012 ballot. Qualifying would freeze implementation of the A.B. 131, which is not set to take effect until 2013, until voters decide whether to keep or reject the law.
While he acknowledged that qualifying for the ballot is a "monumental task," the first-term legislator said he believes he will be able to collect one million signatures without major funding or the use of paid-signature gatherers. He said he will rely on Twitter, talk radio and the fact that "people are furious" to promote his cause.
"The people are so bottled up and so angry over this one issue. This is really the straw that breaks the camel's back," he said, noting that he received 500 emails support his effort today alone.
Democratic Assemblyman Gil Cedillo, who authored the Dream Act, said he believes the efforts of his GOP colleague and seatmate on the Assembly floor "could be directed in a more constructive way."
"This bill is a bill that is about California's future and bringing us together. I don't know why he wants to oppose that," he said, adding that he believes Donnelly will have a tougher time than he thinks gathering support for his effort.