Donnelly had openly promised to file a referendum before the act was even passed in legislature, said Cassandra Joiner, spokesperson for Donnelly.
“We’re broke — we just don’t have the money to fund this,” Donnelly said.
A legislative referendum — which could freeze implementation of the act — will require signatures from 5 percent of the total votes cast in the 2010 gubernatorial election, or approximately 505,000 valid voters. If Donnelly acquires the signatures, a referendum would put the act to a statewide vote to approve or reject the law on the 2012 ballot.
Conrado Terrazas, spokesperson for Assemblymember Gil Cedillo, D-Los Angeles — author of the act — declined to comment on the referendum, saying that Cedillo’s office would comment Wednesday.
According to Donnelly, the target is to acquire 750,000 signatures, but he believes he can exceed a million signatures. State constitutional law gives the assembly member 90 days to reach the required number of signatures.
Over the last 24 hours, Donnelly has had over 5,000 volunteers join his cause and said that in an informal poll he conducted, 25 percent of volunteers have been Hispanic and a large number have been student volunteers.
“Brown chose to fund illegals dreams over funding our schools, pub safety & veterans,” said Donnelly in an Saturday Twitter post.
According to Brown’s press release accompanying his Saturday signing of the bill, the state Department of Finance estimates that 2,500 students will qualify for Cal Grants through the act, which will cost the state approximately $14.5 million. That amount equates to about 1 percent of the Cal Grant program’s current funding level of $1.4 billion.
Others legislators took a long-term view on the bill, focusing on the potential long-term benefits for California rather than the initial costs the state will incur. Ron Calderon, D-Montebello, in stating his support for the bill on the Senate floor Aug. 31, said that having more educated, tax-paying professionals would only help the state’s economy.
“These are young men and women who we have made an incredible investment in them, we’ve made for their education for K-12,” said Cedillo in an Aug. 25 statement after the act’s passage of the state Senate Appropriations Committee. “We’re utilizing the taxpayer dollars of their parents and the taxpayers of the state of California, and now we want to protect that investment by permitting them to apply for scholarships.”
But Donnelly said in an op-ed published in The Daily Californian Sept. 13 that such an opportunity could cause more illegal immigrants to cross the border.
“I believe we need more legal immigration. This bill, however, entices more people to come here in the most dangerous way possible,” he wrote in the op-ed. “By creating a new entitlement for those who are in the country illegally, we are engraving an invitation to those who have not yet come.”