GOP Setting Up Metro State For Election Year Grandstand?

FOX 31′s Eli Stokols reports:

Republican Attorney General John Suthers issued a formal opinion Tuesday afternoon that Metro State College of Denver cannot legally create a new, lower category of tuition for undocumented students.

The school’s Board of Trustees voted 7-1 earlier this month to do just that, reigniting the debate over tuition equity just a couple of months after state lawmakers again killed a bill that aimed to make college more affordable for qualifying illegal immigrants…

Metro State’s President, Dr. Stephen Jordan, and Trustee Melody Harris are set to meet Wednesday afternoon with the Joint Budget Committee at the Capitol after Chairwoman Cheri Gerou requested a meeting to determine how the school decided to move ahead with its proposal.

“My goal is not to make this any more political than it already is,” said Gerou Tuesday. “I just want to find out what Metro’s thought process was, why they decided to do this, because they never hinted they were going down this road when they presented to us before.”

As the state’s only 4-year open enrollment “college of opportunity,” downtown Denver’s Metro State would always have been one of the more affected schools from any legislation or policy change easing the burden on undocumented students. Metro’s comparatively low tuition, and relatively high dependence on state funding compared to other institutions, make the school naturally more vulnerable to the political whim of legislators holding the purse strings.

Proponents say there is legal precedent for Metro’s policy change, and point to a California Supreme Court decision, Martinez vs. Board of Regents of the University of California, which held that “exemption from nonresident tuition did not violate statute prohibiting education benefits to unlawful aliens on basis of residence.” An appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court was denied.

Regardless, after Attorney General John Suthers’ non-binding advisory opinion yesterday, there is a great deal of attention focusing on this afternoon’s meeting of the legislative Joint Budget Committee. GOP JBC chair Rep. Cheri Gerou has come uncomfortably close to making threats to Metro State’s funding in news coverage of Metro State’s original decision. There are differing opinions as to the range of options Republicans on the JBC might entertain to deal with this “problem.” But given the free-wheeling lack of discretion with legislative power we’ve seen this year, it’s probably wise to not rule anything out in advance of today’s meeting.

10 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. PitaPita says:

    Deputy Attorney General David Blake said Metro State was not technically breaking the law by offering the new rate, but that Suthers’ opinion should give school officials pause. “The opinion is that these students are being given a discount – $9,000 (on full-year tuition) is a public benefit,” Blake said.

    http://www.denverpost.com/brea

    Umm…okay then, what’s your problem?

  2. Libertad says:

    Ill post in the daily open diary, but here’s the link

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06

    Obama issues executive order to protect AG Holder

  3. Diogenesdemar says:

    no surprise.  What with Big John and the Supremes about to strike the individual mandate, and MMJ almost dead in this state, our little John is going to need something to keep his name in the papers er, paper.  

  4. ArapaGOPArapaGOP says:

    How can there possibly not be a cost to the state or to students? Who makes up the thousands of dollars that wouldn’t be paid?

    This hearing is a joke. I hope Cheri and Becker lay the hammer down.

  5. AndrewBateman says:

    My favorite moment was Sen. Johnston comparing Metro’s tuition to a person paying for a bus ride.

    But I will take it a step farther and offer this:

    When a high school student rides the bus (RTD), they get to do so at a reduced rate for being a student. There is no citizenship check or anything like that. Those same students graduate and want to go on from high school, with their class mates, to college. But when they arrive, they find that some of them are now required to pay many times more for the same classes as the kids they’ve been going to school with their whole lives.

    This is the underlying injustice with the current system. Even though they are residents and they and their families have been paying into the government coffers their whole lives through payroll and sales taxes, they are prevented from purchasing education at the same rate as everyone else, simply because their parents made the choice to raise them in the land of opportunity.

    As a former Metro State student, I support Doctor Jordan and the Metro State Board of Trustees (Including the Republicans on that board who voted in favor of the tuition break by a 3-1 margin). This was a bold move, and I am one of many who stand behind them and their choice.  

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