DENVER Colorados Democratic Senate gave preliminary approval Friday to a measure that would set a new tuition rate for residents who are illegal immigrants.
Republicans werent swayed. This years immigrant tuition proposal survived on a party-line vote, but its still unclear whether the proposal will meet its death in the Republican House, as it did last year.
The bill would create a new standard tuition rate higher than in-state tuition but lower than out-of-state tuition. Legislative analysts projected that some 500 illegal immigrants who reside in Colorado would use the new rate.
Democratic supporters argued Friday that the new standard tuition wont cost taxpayers and could attract new revenue to the schools.
Tell me what doesnt make sense about allowing these kids to stay here and do this? asked Sen. Rollie Heath, D-Boulder. Yes, this can be an emotional decision. But just look at the dollars and cents.
Republicans dismissed the standard tuition proposal as window dressing that didnt repair what they consider the foundational problem with the idea.
The question is, do you want to give someone thats here illegally this benefit? said Sen. Scott Renfroe, R-Greeley.
After one more ceremonial vote, the tuition measure goes to the House. Thats where things get interesting, because Republicans have a one-vote majority and the bills outcome could hinge on legislative nuance such as which committee considers the bill.
Last year, an immigrant tuition measure died in the House Judiciary Committee. If House Republicans send the bill to another committee, or if a lawmaker changes his or her mind, the outcome could be different. So far House Speaker Frank McNulty has not revealed where hed assign the measure.
Its too soon to say whether any House Republicans will be swayed by the new standard tuition proposal. Some sort of immigrant tuition bill has been proposed, and rejected, five times before.
If Senate Republicans were any guide Friday, the standard tuition idea isnt changing GOP minds. Republicans who spoke against the bill argued that lowered tuition for illegal immigrants sends the wrong message no matter how its done.