Rep. Randy Fine filed legislation Thursday to revoke in-state tuition rates for students who immigrated to the United States illegally.
The Palm Bay Republican’s bill (HB 6037) would repeal a 2014 state law that lets those immigrants pay the subsidized in-state rate to attend one of Florida’s 12 state universities and 28 state colleges.
“With a multi-billion dollar projected budget deficit, Florida can no longer afford to spend $45 million a year on college and university subsidies for families who came to this country illegally,” Fine said. “We charge American students from the other 49 states and Puerto Rico the full-price to provide them with the nation’s top-rated public education – three times our subsidized Florida resident rates – but students who are in this country illegally get a sweetheart deal.
President Joe Biden‘s proposed immigration policy with a path to citizenship will increase the state’s financial burden, Fine said in a statement calling for Florida to put “Floridians first.” The latest projections from state economists predict a $3.3 billion revenue shortfall over two years, an improvement from an August outlook projecting the hit at $5.4 billion.
“It is neither fair to our fellow Americans nor to Florida’s taxpayers,” Fine added. “As we work hard to bring our budget into balance, this is a no-brainer way to contribute to that goal.”
Undocumented immigrants already do not qualify for Florida-sponsored financial aid.
Republicans, including U.S. Rep Greg Steube when he was a state Senator, have tried in past years to repeal the bill, which then-House Speaker Will Weatherford and Sen. Jack Latvala, also Republicans, helped carry over the finish line in 2014.
And Fine’s bill is not the first time tuition rates have been in the spotlight in recent months. With lawmakers looking for places to thin the budget for the next fiscal year, Senate President Wilton Simpson in November suggested now is a “viable opportunity” to make the first state college tuition hike in 10 years.
Fine expects a Senate partner to file a companion bill soon.