Metro State holds ground with JBC over new immigrant tuition rate
Over the course of an intense, sometimes testy hour, officials from Metropolitan State College of Denver met on Wednesday with members of the state legislature's Joint Budget Committee to discuss its controversial new tuition rate for illegal immigrant students.
In a packed room, Metro State President Stephen Jordan and Metro board member Melody Harris responded to pointed questions from JBC chair Rep. Cheri Gerou and Rep. Kent Lambert, both Republicans.
"You are not setting rates, you are creating new categories of rates outside of your statutory authority," said Lambert, R-Colorado Springs.
"What I would like to know, as a result of the analysis by the Attorney General, is Metro State planning on moving ahead and implementing this policy or are they planning to reverse this as we go forward with next year's budget?"
Lambert was referring to the non-binding opinion issued Tuesday by Colorado Attorney General John Suthers, who said that state-supported institutions cannot create discounted tuition rates for illegal immigrant students without legislative approval....
After the meeting, Jordan said Suthers' opinion would have to be considered, but the answer to Lambert's question depended on a number of factors. One of them, he said, was President Barack Obama's decision last week to give illegal immigrants the chance to acquire work permits as well as avoid deportation.
"The attorney general is saying that our rate is providing a benefit and that we can't do that unless they have legal status here," Jordan said. "The president's decision provides an opportunity for that to happen...