DENVER - Rep. Karen Middleton confirmed Friday that she is abandoning a bill that would have cut back the state
reimbursement for Fort Lewis College's Native American tuition waiver program.
"Today I am announcing that I will kill this bill on Monday in the House Education Committee," said Middleton, D-Aurora.
The bill would have reduce Fort Lewis' budget by $1.8 million. It sparked outraged among students, and Middleton said
she was deluged with complaints from people who falsely thought the state was ending the tuition waiver entirely.
Middleton blamed "misleading press" for the idea that the bill penalized American Indians.
"To those Native Americans who felt personally impacted in any way, I am sorry," Middleton said.
A group of at least 150 Fort Lewis students had planned a rally at the Capitol on Monday.
Fort Lewis allies were happy, including Rep. Ellen Roberts, R-Durango.
"I thank Representative Middleton for recognizing the flaws in her bill and for pulling it herself and saving an
awful lot of people the travel in terrible weather conditions to come to the Capitol on Monday," Roberts said.
Sen. Bruce Whitehead, D-Hesperus, stressed that the bill was never about ending opportunities for American Indian
students, even though he thought the bill was a bad idea.
"I didn't think it was the appropriate time to address this issue, piled on top of the other cuts Fort Lewis may
suffer under the governor's (budget) proposal," Whitehead said.