By LINDSAY OLIVIER
NORTH KINGSTOWN – Last September, the Rhode Island Board of Governors for Higher Education approved a controversial bill to allow undocumented immigrants to pay in-state tuition rates at the state’s colleges and the University of Rhode Island.
If Rep. Doreen Costa (R-North Kingstown and Exeter) has her way, however, that bill will soon be repealed.
On Tuesday morning, Costa introduced legislation opposing the Board of Governor’s decision, saying she disagrees with the way the decision was adopted without the approval of the General Assembly, which has
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denied previous attempts to pass the measure over the past seven years.
According to Costa, the bill was never going to get through the Assembly and, knowing this, Governor Lincoln Chafee brought it to the Board of Governors instead as a way to bypass them.
And with Chafee appointing all but one member of the the Board of Governors, she said, it was pretty clear the measure would pass.
“Of course they’re going to vote in favor of anything the governor puts in front of them,” she said. “He showed plain disrespect for the process.”
Costa opposes both the way in which the bill was introduced and the bill itself.
She says she wonders why undocumented immigrants should get a tuition break when residents who are legally in the state don’t.
“This isn’t fair to the taxpayers of this state,” she added. “Parents work hard to be able to send their children to college. It’s a slap in the face when students who aren’t here legally get a pass.”
Tuesday’s hearing on the bill drew a packed house of college students, parents and state residents. Costa commended the level of intelligence and maturity the students showed.
“It’s not about the students’ character, rather, about process and what’s fair.”
Gov. Lincoln Chafee supported the bill last year, saying it would “improve the intellectual and culture life of Rhode Island while strengthening the workforce and economy.”
Calls to Chafee’s office were unreturned by press time.