The Republicans were running this legislative session by the campaign playbook - until Friday. Now all of a sudden a fellow party member threw a wrench in the works and has past and present governors crying foul.
Florida Senate budget chief Joe Negron said last week his committee wouldn't hear a bill that would allow some undocumented immigrant students who went to school in Florida to pay in-state tuition to attend public universities rather than out-of-state tuition, which is much more expensive. This shoots down the smooth sailing the GOP-led Legislature has been providing to help make Gov. Rick Scott's re-election more likely. They didn't want infighting to sully things up, but the immigrant student debate does just that.
Even a chunk of GOP senators were ready to support the in-state tuition measure but probably won't get a chance because Negron's taking his ball and going home.
On Friday, Governor Scott and former governors Jeb Bush and Bob Martinez showed their displeasure of Negron's refusal to hear the bill. They said this bill allows students who have spent most of all of their life in Florida, even though their parents were here illegally, to pursue affordable education.
Scott wants to win over some Hispanic votes he lost in years past. During the last election he angered many Hispanic voters by trying to bring Arizona's controversial immigration laws to Florida and blocking the ability of these same young people to get driver's licenses. It's no secret to anyone that he's trying to win votes because he's in a tight race with former Gov. Charlie Crist. Bush, on the other hand, has long pushed for leniency on such matters.
In the coming weeks it's going to be interesting as Republicans squabble over this bill. It's causing a flap that none of them wanted, but it's not surprising that it has come to this. Conservatives hold strong opinions on anything immigration related.
We hope Negron comes to his senses and allows this bill to be heard so it can be voted on when it reaches the Senate floor. For him to do otherwise shows a side to him that won't suit his party or himself well. We don't care about Scott's election gyrations, we just believe this bill needs to be passed to offer young people a fair and affordable opportunity to attend college. It's not their fault that their parents came here illegally.