Negron Yanks Immigrant Tuition Bill, Shrinking Its Chances Of Passing

Apr 17, 2014

Senate Appropriations Chairman Joe Negron (R-Stuart)
Credit Florida Senate

A proposal to give children of undocumented immigrants in-state tuition at public colleges and universities in Florida may be dead for the year.

The House included the tuition issue a part of its legislative agenda and it was a priority of Speaker Will Weatherford. but the plan to give undocumented students in-state tuition faced an uphill battle in the Senate from the start, with strong opposition coming from Senate President Don Gaetz.

Now, Senate budget chief Joe Negron, whose Appropriations committee was set to take up the bill after the break, says he won’t hear it. Negron says his decision is based partly on a lack of evidence of need. Public higher education institutions are already waiving in-state tuition costs for many of the same students the bill aimed to assist.

"Under current law, each year Florida's state colleges and universities already provide almost $300 million in tuition waivers and fee exemptions.  At least two institutions in Florida have chosen to waive out-of-state tuition altogether for some students who are not legal state residents," Negron said in a statement. " In fact, this Session, the Senate heard from undocumented students who testified that their out-of-state tuition has been waived.  The bottom line is that state colleges and universities already have the flexibility to waive out-of-state tuition in their discretion."

The bill could get a floor hearing if it’s pulled out of the appropriations committee, but such a move is unlikely. Negron’s decision not to give the bill a hearing may have killed its chances of passage during the current legislative session.