Last week, the powerful speaker of the House of Representatives said he was killing a proposal to create a new tuition rate at the state’s universities and community colleges for all who have graduated from an Arizona high school, including dreamers, but Sen. Heather Carter said she’s “working relentlessly” to find a way to get the proposal to the governor’s desk.
Carter, R-Cave Creek, said the decision by House Speaker Rusty Bowers, R-Mesa, to kill her Senate Bill 1217 isn’t the end of the road. In response, she told Arizona Mirror she’s finalizing a striker amendment for House Bill 2186, which will be heard in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee on Thursday.
Carter’s SB1217 was approved in the Senate over a month ago. It says students who graduate from an Arizona high school (or were homeschooled according to state standards) are eligible for the new tuition rate, as long as they meet the institution’s academic requirements. The Arizona Board of Regents and community colleges would decide the new tuition cost.
But the House refused to hear the bill. Although House Education Committee Chair Michelle Udall, R-Mesa, had twice scheduled SB1217 for a hearing, Bowers would not assign the bill to her committee.
Udall is also the sponsor of HB2186, which seeks to codify in statute an Arizona Department of Education memorandum on unpaid school meal policy. HB2186 was scheduled Tuesday for a hearing in the Senate Education Committee, but it was pulled from the agenda last week.
Carter co-chairs the Health and Human Services Committee, where the strike-everything amendment to HB2186 will be heard. Such amendments delete all of the provisions of the underlying bill and replace them with entirely new, and often unrelated, provisions.
Carter said that amendment will include new changes to remove a requirement saying students would qualify for the new tuition rate if they were enrolled in school in the past year.
If the amended HB2186 clears the Senate, it would still need Bowers to schedule a roll-call vote on the House floor.
Bowers told Capitol Media Services last week Carter’s bill had logistical, political and legal problems, and that enough Republicans lawmakers in his chamber convinced him to kill the proposal. On Monday, Carter told the Mirror she believes there’s enough votes in the House for her proposal to pass.
Carter said it’s important for this policy idea to pass this session.
“Every year we wait to do something, it’s another group of students who might be priced out of higher education in Arizona,” she said.
This is the final week for bills from the opposite chamber to be heard in committees.
Still, Carter is hopeful she has time to move her idea forward.
“We are a long way away from end of session, so there’s a lot of opportunity to have conversations about this policy issue,” she said.
Carter’s proposal is backed by several business groups, the community colleges and the Arizona Board of Regents.