Senate Bill 126, Colorado Asset, passed the Senate Education Committee today on the wings of hope for immigrant students and an infusion of cash into the state economy. The bill passed 5-2.
“This bill will be a revenue generator for higher education for our state,” said sponsor Sen. Angela Giron, D-Pueblo.
Steve Jordan, president of Metropolitan State College of Denver said, “We have to stop thinking about the what we have been spending on these children in grades K-12 as an expense and instead as an investment in intellectual capital.”
The bill, sponsored by Democratic Senators Giron and Mike Johnston, D-Denver, would allow students who have attended a Colorado high school for three years and graduated from such school to pay in-state tuition if they enroll in a Colorado institution of higher education within a year of graduation.
They would not get the benefit of the Colorado Opportunity Fund. A resident of Colorado receives $62 per credit hour through the fund. Undocumented immigrants would not be able to receive this subsidy.
Similar bills have passed in 11 states, including Republican controlled Texas.
Republican Senator Nancy Spence, Centennial, said she could not support the bill today because students would be unable to find employment in the country later down the road as an undocumented alien.
“Until they are legal in this country,” Spence said. “I don’t see the benefit in giving the false hope.”
Sen. Scott Renfroe, R-Greeley, said he was voting against the bill because he thought it might interfere with federal moves toward immigration reform.
Stan Weekes, director for the Colorado Alliance for Immigration Reform, called for individuals who were not legally in the country to leave the room and said he saw constitutional challenges in the future if the bill was to become law.
Amie Baca, representing the Colorado Education Association, said Coloradans spend tax dollars educating students who then move to New Mexico where they can get in-state tuition. She said as a result, Colorado is losing those dollars to our neighbor state.
Johnston said he had helped students to be placed at the University of New Mexico.