Saturday, January 20, 2007

Vote against Utah HB224

HB224, which repeals in-state tuition for children of illegal immigrants, made it out of committee Friday. HB224 is a bad idea.

If a child is (a) brought to the United States illegally by their parents (b) graduates from High School after attending for at least 3 years in Utah and (c) gets into college, then they ought to get a tuition break.

To penalize children brought in illegally by their parents is a form state-sponsored punishment of children for their parent's illegal behavior. If children of convicted drug-dealing US citizens aren't sent to jail with their parents, why should children of illegal immigrants be penalized?

In 2005-06, there were 182 students taking advantage of the tuition break. At $5000 of tuition lost per student, that comes to almost an opportunity cost of almost $1,000,000 to support keeping these students in school. To put that in perspective, if we took 1/3 of the budget surplus, that would be about $100M in round numbers, for 2005-06 and spent it on covering lost tuition for these students, we could fund the program for 50-100 years depending on how many students use the program.

[Salt Lake Tribune - Undocumented kids' tuition break takes hit]

6 comments:

Anthony Barney said...

I partially agree with you Mike:
If a child is (a) brought to the United States illegally by their parents (b) graduates from High School after attending for at least 3 years in Utah and (c) gets into college, then they ought to get nationalized, then (d) get a tuition break.

Here's a question that I don't know the answer to but I think has a great deal of relevance: do we give tuition breaks to legal immigrants on a student visa?

Anonymous said...

Most are looking at this from such a biased perspective that the question clouds the conclusion. From the University's - or any state college's perspective - the question is 'does the applicant meet the qualifications to apply?' To meet the "in-state" criteria, an applicant has to have graduated from a Utah school after attending for AT LEAST three years - which demonstrates residency from the perspective of the school criteria.

Most such students can easily show much more than the minimum three years, have graduated with sufficient good grades, and demonstrate an ability to succeed - and that ability despite the obvious social and institutional obstacles and impediments. I feel these students should be rewarded for their efforts. None receives federal or state assistance and they and their families still pay the full tuition amount as other residents who meet the criteria and receive state and federal assistance. We're not LOSING money from them. In fact, in not subsidizing them, we're not losing at all. The investment is all theirs, and we all win!

Do we prevent children of polygamists from applying for and receiving in-state tuition assistance even though they are "illegal"?

Anonymous said...

Much of the confusion comes from not distinguishing "residency" for federal immigration purposes and "residency" for the University's admissions purposes. They look the same, are spelled the same, and are even pronounced the same.... but they mean different things, are derived at differently and provide different levels of "benefit". They are different and should not be confused for the same.

Matt Snyder said...

I think that people need to realize and remember that education isn't free. To build schools, campuses, pay teachers, open labs - this all costs money. Taxes need paid and budgets need ballanced in order for us to get an education. The State of Utah and counties levy taxes through income taxes, property taxes, and through goods and services purchased here in Utah. That's how school is paid for. I think that someone's "break" in tuition should be based on their contribution to the state of Utah, not based on how long they have been here or if their parents are legal citizens of Utah/US. If you contribute to society, then should get a break in education. I couldn't send my kids to school in Wyoming or Nevada without paying taxes in that state. It just wouldn't happen. If someone is paying taxes here they should be given the status of residency after a certain amount of time (personally I think 3 years is too long). If someone is here illegaly, getting paid under the table, mailing $ back home to their family or friends, not paying state taxes, not contributing to the healthcare system - their kids shouldn't be given a break in tuition. Buying groceries and clothes isn't contributing to the tax system. That being said, I have a neighbor who is from Montana, has lived here for 2 years, bought a home, pays property taxes, bought and licensed his cars here in Utah, works in Utah, and pays income state taxes in Utah - and still has to wait another year before he is considered a resident so he can get in-state tuition. It's nuts. HB224 does't addess the real issues of what it means to be a citizen and resident of Utah. It's an ill-conceived bill that misses the mark. If this passes then good contributing members of society will be punished - along with those who don't contribute. To me that doesn't sound like we're solving any problems.

Anonymous said...

matt, I agree with your comments but just want to be sure we agree on one of your premises. You seem to equate "illegal immigrant" with "no taxes": "If someone is here illegaly, getting paid under the table, mailing $ back home to their family or friends, not paying state taxes, not contributing to the healthcare system." Yet, you mention your neighbor - likely not Latino immigrant - who "has lived here for 2 years, bought a home, pays property taxes, bought and licensed his cars here in Utah, works in Utah, and pays income state taxes in Utah." Yet, the same criteria you used for your neighbor fits exactly - except for your neighbor has less time - as the Latino immigrants even bethey "illegal".

I know of many who have lived her for several years, who have bought homes, thus, they pay property taxes, they purchase cars and must get them licensed to drive here in Utah, they work here in Utah, and most pay income state taxes in Utah.

I think your picture of undocumented immigrants is limited by your ideology and not reality.

Nevertheless, you arrived at the same conclusion as I: "HB224 does't addess the real issues of what it means to be a citizen and resident of Utah. It's an ill-conceived bill that misses the mark. If this passes then good contributing members of society (I might add, both legal and illegal) will be punished - along with those who don't contribute (including Mormon polygamists who produce more children to 'help starve the beast'). To me that doesn't sound like we're solving any problems."

Matt Snyder said...

Since writing my first comments a couple of weeks ago, I'd like to change my opinion a little - if that's OK. I've been thinking a lot about this bill and the impact it really has on the tax system and on our society. I'd like to "strike from the record" some of my comments dealing with illegal immigrants. I think that education is a very important thing and that if children of someone who is here illegaly meets the current state criteria for getting a break in tuition - then they should get it. The children of illegal immigrants shouldn't be punished for their parents actions or residency status.

My understanding is that this bill affects less than 200 students in the state of Utah. It seems like a silly thing to put so much time and effort into getting 200 students to pay higher tuition.

My dad teaches at a university here in Utah and reminded me that even a student who pays in-state tuition is getting his/her education subsidized by the state of Utah. Utah only charges students about 40% of the actual cost of what their education costs them. The other 60% is picked up by the state. It seems that at one point even I was unknowingly "helped" out with the cost of tuition. I know that if I would have had to pay the full cost of tuition I may have not gone to college. That's a big tab to pick up.

The other experience I had this week that changed my mind about this bill was I was doing my taxes the other night. Like any good American I was trying to "write off" as many things as I could - maximizing my deductions to lower my taxable income and when I got down to what I really owed in taxes I saw that it wasn't that much. It made me think that I was probably paying more in taxes for everyday living then I was in income taxes. Between sales tax, gas tax, phone and utility taxes - the state of Utah was making a lot of $ off of me! Sure illegal immigrants may be getting paid under the table - not reporting it on income taxes - but all of us in Utah need food, gas, utilities, and an oil change every 3000 miles. Every time I spend $ here in Utah it's taxed.

So my original opinion stating that "buying groceries and clothes isn't contributing to the tax system" isn't a very fair statement. It is contributing. It's contributing a lot.

Going to college is a big thing. Education is an important investment that will pay off for all in our community. I think we shouldn't make the current statutes and requirements for in-state tuition any harder. It's hard enough. Let these students make a difference in the lives of their families and in our community by not burdening them any more with the higher cost of tuition.