Arizona ‘Dreamers’ Tuition Break Proposal Blocked From Having State House Hearing

A proposal led by Arizona Sen. Heather Carter, R-Cave Creek that would legally establish a specific community college and university tuition for “Dreamers” and individuals who don’t qualify for in-state tuition has potentially reached a stalemate.

House Speaker Rusty Bowers recently told Capitol Media Services that he will not permit the proposal to be presented in his chamber. Bowers added that there are too many logistical, political and even legal problems with the bid to allow it be discussed.

Bowers’ decision comes despite recent approval of the bill by the Republican-controlled state Senate on an 18-12 margin, according to the AZ Capitol Times.

However, only four of the total 17 Arizona Senate Republicans supported the proposal. Bowers said there are enough Republicans legislatures in the House who oppose the bill to convince him to pull the plug.

The decision has left Carter to determine a way to present the bill to the full House and obtain more supporters within her own party.

“Just keep presenting the bill as drafted and giving them the information that they need and answering any questions that they have,” Carter said.

The bill, SB 1217, would require all colleges determine a tuition rate for those who graduated from Arizona high schools but do not meet requirements for in-state tuition. The determined tuition rate would need to be high enough to pay the costs of education, not subsidized by taxpayers, but still lower than what the institutions currently charge to students paying out-of-state tuition.

This could benefit DACA recipients and those who left Arizona after graduating high school, but chose to return to the state for college, Carter said.

Bowers noted that his decision to deny a hearing in the House for the bill has nothing to do with any motive to prevent Dreamers from getting an affordable college education.

“I sympathize and, even in a way, can empathize with the folks affected,” Bowers said, adding that he hopes to be able “to offer some method of recognizing their long-term presence.”

The only legal way to provide that kind of financial belief, he said, is to revisit the legislation, something that would mean taking it back to voters.

In addition, there is the question of politics, where Bowers argues that several of his members representing Republican districts that are not interested in providing a tuition break for students who are technically in the country contrary to federal immigration law or DACA status.

Carter argued that opponents of the proposal are ignoring what it entails and how what she is proposing is different. The focus of the ballot measure was more on the utilization of state tax dollars, she said.

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