Disagreement Among MO Lawmakers Over DACA Tuition Breaks Delays Progress On State Budget Approval

May 9, 2019

Credit Matt Madd/Flickr, License: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/legalcode

For the first time since 2009, the Missouri House of Representatives refused to approve the higher education budget bill. The main sticking point for House Republicans surrounded a section on DACA students receiving in-state tuition.

Currently, the budget requires undocumented immigrants with DACA status in Missouri to pay international rates at colleges.

House Democrats and Republicans engaged in a passionate debate over this section on Thursday.

Representative Dottie Bailey said Missouri needs to use its limited public funds to serve its own citizens, who she believes are left out of the conversation, before it serves DACA students.

“We have to take care of our own first before we can start taking care of anyone else. And it bugs me that we always have this conversation, but we forget the forgotten man,” said Bailey.

Representative Kip Kendrick said DACA students are productive members of the state - and deserve to be rewarded with in-state tuition.

“There’s empirical research out there - that exists - showing the productivity of first-generation immigrants in this country. Their productivity is pretty astounding,” said Kendrick.

Other Democrats expressed concerns about not finishing the higher education budget in time. The deadline is 6 p.m. on Friday.

However, Representative Cody Smith, the budget chairman, said he thinks it is possible.

“We’ve got enough time. Although a little more than 24 hours doesn’t seem like a lot, when it matters, we can get things done quickly in this place,” said Smith. “We’ve agreed on everything, gentleman, except for this piece.”

The House voted against the current bill with the DACA section 110 to 43.