The Tennessee Star Poll conducted of 1,007 likely Republican primary voters in the state shows they reject in-state college tuition for illegal aliens by a stunning 84 percent to 11 percent margin.
When asked “In 2018, the Tennessee General Assembly is expected to reconsider a bill to provide in-state college tuition to illegal immigrant students. Do you support or oppose providing in-state college tuition to illegal immigrant students?” Tennessee likely Republican primary voters resoundingly rejected the idea–with high levels of intensity.
68.9% Strongly Disapproved
15.5% Somewhat Disapproved
5.9% Somewhat Approved
5.2% Strongly Approved
4.5% Not Sure/don’t know
In-state tuition for illegal aliens and repeal of the gas tax increase are likely to be two of the hottest topics of the 2018 election in the gubernatorial race as well as a number of contested state legislative races.
Two bills proposed in this year’s session of the Tennessee General Assembly introduced by State Senator Todd Gardenhire (R-Chattanooga) and State Rep. Mark White (R-Memphis) that promised in-state tuition at Tennessee’s public colleges failed to become law.
One bill, HB660, “would authorize the new college and university governing boards to decide which students are eligible to pay in-state tuition rates.”
Another bill, HB 863, “would extend the same discretion to any of the schools not covered by the other bill for determining which students can pay in-state tuition.”
“White’s first bill this year that would have granted in-state tuition to illegal immigrant students, HB863, was voted down in committee in a 7-6 vote. This bill closely tracked the language of his 2015 bill, HB675, that failed on the House floor by one vote. . . [He] moved his second bill, HB660 that would legalize in-state tuition for illegal immigrant students in Tennessee, to the 2018 legislative session,” The Tennessee Star reported back in April:
Last week when this bill failed in committee on a 6-6 vote, White indicated he would seek a motion for the committee to reconsider their action on the bill, but likely discovered that he could not overcome the required procedural hurdle. Moving his bill to 2018, allows him to avoid having the motion to reconsider fail, earning yet another strike against his campaign to secure in-state tuition for illegal immigrant students.
Opposition to in-state tuition for illegal immigrant students is virtually unanimous among likely Republican primary voters who live in two of the state’s three geographic regions: Middle Tennessee and West Tennessee.
In Middle Tennessee, 90.2 percent of likely Republican primary voters oppose in-state tuition for illegal immigrants, while only 6.1 percent support it.
In West Tennessee, 89.3 percent of likely Republican primary voters oppose in-state tuition for illegal immigrants, while only 9 percent support it.
Only in East Tennessee, home region of bill sponsor Gardenhire, does opinion not reach near unanimous opposition. There, 74.5 percent of likely Republican primary voters oppose in-state tuition for illegal immigrants, while 18.1 percent support it.
The proposal is opposed by 15 out of every 16 likely Republican primary voters in Middle Tennessee, 10 out of every 11 likely Republican primary voters in West Tennessee, and 3 out of 4 likely Republican primary voters in East Tennessee.
In-state tuition for illegal immigrants is highly unpopular with both genders as well.
Among men, 89 percent oppose it and 7.9 percent support it. Among women, 80.2 percent oppose it and 13.9 percent support it.
Despite these record-setting levels of public opposition, Gardenhire, White, and their allies in the Tennessee General Assembly insist they will bring the bill back for consideration in the 2018 session of the Tennessee General Assembly.
“[B]y moving HB660 to next year’s calendar, White has signaled that he will continue to try and secure in-state tuition for illegal immigrant students – even if it is an election year,” The Star reported:
Haslam, also nearing the end of his last term as governor has publicly encouraged legislators to “revive” the failed in-state tuition bills and in doing so, confirmed The Tennessee Star’s reporting that was the first to expose the Gardenhire/White plan to use HB660/SB635 as a back-up bill in the event their other in-state tuition bills did not pass.
Back in March, The Star summarized the records of four of the six announced or likely candidates for governor on the issue of in-state tuition for illegal aliens:
Gubernatorial candidate Randy Boyd is a member of the Partnership for a New American Economy that promotes in-state tuition for illegal immigrant students. . .
Sen. Mark Norris and Mae Beavers who have both said they are considering running in the 2018 Republican gubernatorial primary, each voted “no” in 2015 on Gardenhire’s in-state tuition bill.
Speaker Harwell, whose decision to run in the 2018 gubernatorial race has been the subject of conflicting reports, absented herself during the House floor vote on the 2015 in-state tuition bill for illegal immigrant students.
Given the level of intensity among likely Republican primary voters who oppose in-state tuition for illegal aliens, any candidate for governor or The Tennessee General Assembly who supports it risks losing huge swaths of votes on primary election day in August 2018.
The Tennessee Star Poll also asked likely Tennessee Republican primary voters their views on two other key issues expected to dominate the 2018 Gubernatorial campaign: repeal of the gas tax and “Constitutional Carry.”
Those results will be released later today.
The poll, which was commissioned by The Tennessee Star and conducted by Triton Polling and Research in an automated (IVR) telephone survey of 1,007 likely Tennessee Republican Primary voters between May 31 and June 5, has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percent.
You can read the poll results for all questions except the final two issues here on pages 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5, here:
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