During last week’s radio interview with Ralph Bristol, Randy Boyd repeats the same arguments being used by legislators to grant in-state tuition to illegal aliens living in Tennessee.
At first, Boyd makes it sound as if he is opposed to giving in-state tuition to illegal aliens when he says, “I don’t believe that the state should be providing additional benefits for people that are illegal in our state.”
But Boyd makes a quick pivot relying on the same arguments used by legislators who voted in favor of the State Sen. Gardenhire/State Rep. White in-state tuition bill.
Former State Sen. Jim Tracy (R-Shelbyville) said his focus was wanting to help UT Martin fill their open seats because “we need more students in college…we are not at full capacity now…I’m just trying to reach more students.” Boyd used a partially empty hotel example to illustrate why the state shouldn’t use its tuition policies to “charge a penalty of triple” the amount of in-state tuition:
I think that’s true and I think this my be a longer conversation for another interview, but I think there is also a concern that I have about us being able to attract more talent around the country and around the world into our universities. Many of our universities are not at capacity. If you’ve got a hotel, and you have 30 percent empty rooms, you don’t charge 300 percent more to those last few rooms. The variable cost is fairly small in filling those up. We’ve got a lot of those universities that would actually make a significant amount of money charging just the normal, full tuition – rather than charging a penalty of triple. So I think we need to look at our overall tuition policy. But that’s a more broader conversation that has not really anything to do with- (emphasis added)
The 2015-2016 Tennessee Higher Education Fact Book shows that both the UT and TB Board of Regents universities and the community colleges total enrollments from 2010 – 2015, are trending down.
Sponsors of the two in-state tuition bills, Sen. Todd Gardenhire and Rep. Mark White also say that illegal aliens students will help fill empty seats and that unless the state makes a college education economically accessible to these students, Haslam’s “Drive to 55” education goals will not be achieved.
Boyd is heavily invested in the “Drive to 55” initiative which his website says he created. Several state legislators working to get him elected as governor voted to give illegal immigrant students access to in-state college tuition. Senators Richard Briggs and Becky Duncan-Massey and Reps. Kent Calfee and Eddie Smith all voted for the 2015 in-state tuition bill that passed the Senate but failed in the House by a single vote.
Supporters of the in-state tuition say these are reasons that justify violating federal and state law that otherwise prohibits giving illegal aliens in-state tuition.
At the end of his radio interview Boyd was adamant that he has been “very vocal” on his opposition to sanctuary cities because “it’s simply illegal.” However, on the issue of in-state tuition, he says that based on the Attorney General’s opinion that the legislature “would probably have the right to make the decision” and sounds agreeable to violating federal and state law if the legislature says it’s okay to do so.