Arizona to vote on in-state tuition for non-citizen residents in 2022

In 2022, Arizonans will vote on a ballot measure to expand in-state tuition to some residents without legal citizenship status. The ballot measure would make in-state tuition available to non-citizen residents who (a) attended school in Arizona for at least two years and (b) graduated from a public school, private school, or homeschool in Arizona. Individuals who are considered nonresident aliens under federal law, such as the children of foreign diplomats and foreign government employees, would not be eligible.

The ballot measure would repeal provisions of Proposition 300, which 71% of voters approved in 2006. Proposition 300 provided that non-citizens could not receive certain state-subsidized services, benefits, or financial aid or in-state tuition rates.

State Sen. Paul Boyer (R-20) filed the ballot measure as Senate Concurrent Resolution 1044 (SCR 1044). On March 4, 2021, the Arizona State Senate voted 17-13 to approve the proposal, with Democrats and three Republicans supporting SCR 1044. On May 10, 2021, the Arizona House of Representatives voted 33-27 to refer the ballot measure to the ballot, with Democrats and four Republicans supporting the resolution. According to the Associated Press, House Speaker Rusty Bowers (R-25) did not want a vote on the bill unless a majority of House Republicans supported it. However, State Reps. Michelle Udall (R-25) and Joel John (R-4) motioned for a vote and were joined by Democrats and two other Republicans.

Republicans hold 31 House seats and Democrats hold 29 House seats. Rep. Udall said, “We need more college educated teachers, health care workers, lawyers, engineers and a host of other occupations. The youth this bill seeks to help shouldn’t be blamed or judged based on others’ actions. They were brought here as minors, as children.” State Rep. John Fillmore (R-16), who voted against the measure, stated, “Americans should not have to pay for non-American citizens, illegals, giving them favored status for their trespass and invasion into America.” 

The ballot measure is the first certified for the ballot in Arizona for 2022. Since 1985, the state legislature referred an average of five proposals to the ballot during each election cycle. As of May 10, ten legislative referrals have passed at least one chamber of the Arizona State Legislature. A simple majority is required in each legislative chamber to refer a measure to the ballot. This applies to both statutes and constitutional amendments. The 2021 legislative session is expected to adjourn on May 31. 

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