Archive for Sunday, May 2, 2004

Budget talks hit impasse on immigrant tuition plan

May 2, 2004

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— Budget negotiators remained deadlocked Saturday over a proposal to grant illegal immigrants a one-year break on tuition at public colleges and universities.

The impasse threatened to stall resolution of a bill tying up loose ends in a $10.3 billion budget already approved for the fiscal year beginning July 1. The tuition proposal was a key issue in House-Senate negotiations that continued Saturday evening and were scheduled to resume Monday.

The proposal would grant in-state tuition to illegal immigrants who had attended a Kansas high school at least three years and graduated or earned a general educational development degree in Kansas.

To receive the cheaper tuition, an immigrant would have to be actively seeking legal immigration status or plan to do so as soon as he or she were eligible.

House members had inserted the proposal into their chamber's version of the budget cleanup bill, although including it in a spending measure means it would only be in effect for one year.

The Senate in February approved a version of the tuition proposal as a separate bill, but House Speaker Doug Mays blocked consideration of the Senate measure in his chamber.

Rep. Melvin Neufeld, the chief House budget negotiator, opposes the tuition proposal and said he would not sign any budget compromise that includes it.

Neufeld, R-Ingalls, said in an interview that he objects to "subsidies for foreign students at the expense of Kansas residents."

In-state tuition can be substantially lower than the rates charged to nonresidents.

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