Compilation of reactions to Florida House passing bill giving in-state tuition to undocumented students

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Today, the Florida House of Representatives Passed House Bill 851, which provides graduating students who have completed four years in a Florida high school the opportunity to receive in-state tuition rates at a Florida postsecondary institution. 

Here is a compilation of reactions from elected officials and politicians to the bill’s passage: 

Speaker Will Weatherford: 

“Today, the Florida House took a historic step toward putting a college degree within reach for a certain group of Florida students. The State of Florida invests thousands of taxpayer dollars to educate children who are here through no fault of their own.  The time has come to stop penalizing them for the mistakes of their parents. 
“I believe that education is the most important opportunity the State government can offer its residents, and I am glad that it has been at the forefront of this legislative session,” said Representative Nuñez. “This bill is an important step that introduces fairness and pragmatism to our state college and university system. I am proud that even though there may be an immigration gridlock in Washington, Florida is leading the country in offering opportunities for all students.”

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush: 

“Speaker Weatherford and members of the Florida House deserve tremendous credit for pushing forward a solution to wisely and compassionately grant in-state tuition to Florida students who are the children of illegal immigrants. Punishing these children for their parents’ acts by creating obstacles to a college degree isn’t in their interests, or ours. President Obama and the federal government have failed to reform our broken immigration system. This proposal would ensure Florida keeps and capitalizes on the talent of all Florida students who want to attend our exceptional colleges and universities.” 

American Conservative Union Chairman Al Cardenas: 

“President Obama, by executive fiat, granted permanent stay to the ‘dreamers.’ Children who, through no fault of their own, arrived in America with their parents. Most of them come from low-income families and qualify academically to attend our colleges and universities, if they could afford to. Granting in state tuition rights to these children, who have lived most of their lives in our state, is not only fair but most importantly smart. Most of them will make their future home in Florida and will be far more productive to our state to their families with a college education. Regardless of your feelings on immigration reform, this is a wise proposal to assure a more productive workforce for our state.” 

Council of 100 Chairman Steve Halverson: 

“The Florida Council of 100 applauds Speaker Weatherford and the Florida House of Representatives on today’s passage of in-state tuition legislation.  Florida taxpayers annually make a substantial investment in the K-12 education of their children, and it is vital to the state’s economy that we support their continued learning, regardless of immigration status.  The House of Representatives is to be commended for the deliberative approach it took toward crafting this balanced legislation.  The Council of 100 urges the Florida Senate to continue its thoughtful review of the topic and adopt similar provisions that enable more Florida students to affordably access a higher education in the state.” 

Associated Industries of Florida:

“All Florida high school graduates should qualify for in-state tuition at our public colleges, universities and independent universities regardless of their immigration status, subject to meeting all admission standards.  While the federal government continues its inaction on a national immigration policy, the legislature should do what it can to ensure our workforce is well educated and prepared for demands of a growing economy.”

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including,,, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.