Just who should pay in-state tuition has been a controversial issue in Massachusetts, and two Republican state representatives are making their voices heard.
State Rep. Jim Lyons of Andover and State Rep. Marc Lombardo of Billerica have filed legislation to reserve subsidized in-state college tuition for citizens and legal residents of Massachusetts.
"This is an issue of fundamental fairness," Lyons said in a statement. "Our taxpaying citizens are working hard to play by the rules. Those who follow the rules should not be forced to subsidize those who break the rules."
HD2038, the "Lyons-Lombardo bill," aims at undoing an order by Gov. Deval Patrick in November to allow some illegal immigrants to receive in-state tuition benefits.
"Working families are having a difficult enough time in this slowed-down economy," Lyons said. "They should not be burdened with subsidizing higher education for anyone who refuses to abide by residency and citizenship requirements."
But Patrick's directive extends in-state tuition rates only to illegal immigrants who qualify for a work permit through the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
The Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation has actually expressed support for Patrick's directive, citing their 2011 study that estimated that "between 315 and 365 illegal immigrants would enroll in the state’s public institutions if they were eligible for in-state rates. Overall, the study predicted that the granting of in-state rates would be a net financial gain for the commonwealth."