AUSTIN (KXAN) – A Texas lawmaker filed a bill to repeal a law that allows college students, who came to the U.S. illegally, to pay in-state tuition.
Right now, students are eligible for in-state tuition under the Texas DREAM Act if they’ve lived in Texas for three years, are seeking legal status and if they graduated from high school or received a GED.
State Rep. Kyle Biedermann (R-Fredericksburg) says he filed the bill because taxpayers are paying for students that are not Texas residents.
“We’re giving taxpayer funding to those people that came here illegally, that broke the law,” said Biedermann. “That’s just not right.”
“It’s in his interest to do this kind of bill,” said James Barragan with the Dallas Morning News. But he thinks it’s divisive, and will be difficult to move forward,. ”Overall, the majority of the House is not going to have an appetite for it,” Barragan said.
Lawmakers have made several attempts to repeal the law in recent years. All of them failed, in part because many in the business community support the Act.
“What the business community is telling lawmakers is, ‘this makes sense. As an economic policy, it makes sense. So leave it alone,’” said Joy Diaz with KUT.
If the bill passes, it could cost students more than three times the amount of in-state tuition. Students like Daniela Rojas, a University of Texas at Austin student protected under the Texas DREAM Act say the bill isn’t fair.
“We deserve education, the right to education, and the right to have affordable education, just as anybody else should, doesn’t matter what the legal status should be.” said Rojas.
Governor Greg Abbott previously said he would not veto a bill to repeal the Texas DREAM Act, saying lawmakers who passed it had a “noble cause,” but during the Texas Governor’s Debate in September, he said it needs to be changed.
“The law that passed said that these students who received in-state tuition had to demonstrate that they were on a pathway toward achieving legal status. However, there is no apparatus in the law to make sure that, in fact, is being done. Hence, the law as structured is flawed, and it has to be fixed,” said Abbott.
Buckley Prepares to Take Office
While new bills are being filed for the 2019 Texas Legislative Session, new lawmakers are also stepping out onto the floor.
Among 28 new Texas State House members, is Brad Buckley (R-Killeen), one of three veterinarian representatives in the House. Fresh out of orientation, he says he’s excited to get started.
“I’m honored by the folks that really called on me to serve and now I’m ready to do it,” Buckley said.
Buckley represents Lampasas County and about half of Bell County. One of the most important issues to Buckley is school finance reform, a concern that matches that of presumptive Speaker of the Texas House, Dennis Bonnen. Standing strong on water issues and improving the public-school system are also big issues the freshman representative and former Killeen School Board member plans to focus on.
“I want to make sure that we have a quality public school system that can create an outstanding well-trained workforce so that we can meet our economic needs in the future,” Buckley said.
The Texas Legislative Session begins in January.
School Integration Concerns
A federal court order to desegregate schools in an East Texas city has been lifted. It had been in place for nearly 50 years. Now, the change is putting pressure on the school district to ensure equal educational opportunities for all its students.
Alexa Ura with The Texas Tribune is part of a team that took a deeper look at the issues facing Longview, Texas. You can read the report here. Ura says Longview ISD was under the federal order longer than most other communities.
“For a long time they were just unable to really get together, the school board, and take active steps to integrated schools,” Ura said.
In June, the district was declared formally integrated, which means there is now no federal enforcement to make sure the district continues to offer equal opportunities.
“The district has promised, ‘we’re going to have reports and if we see that students of color are not being represented, we’re going to use race-neutral strategies to help do that by recruiting children from low socioeconomic backgrounds,’” Ura said.
She says Longview ISD looks like a lot of other communities in Texas and the district still has a lot to work on.
“There is some real concern that what it took so long to make so much of this progress and there’s some real concern that all of that could go away,” said Ura.