Wednesday, April 25, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Florida's step forward for immigrants

The Florida Legislature has taken a significant step toward recognizing this state's diversity as one of its strengths and that it is smart public policy as well as smart politics to invest in the future. Legislation sent to Gov. Rick Scott on Friday that allows undocumented immigrants who graduate from Florida high schools to pay in-state tuition at state colleges and universities initially could benefit more than 1,300 students. The return will be much broader, for it signals Florida is a compassionate state that wants to continue to provide opportunities for its brightest young people, regardless of where they were born and how they got here.

This has been a yearslong effort to level the playing field for undocumented immigrants who excelled in Florida high schools but found out-of-state tuition rates made it difficult to continue their education. Much of the credit for persuading their colleagues to recognize the benefits of offering in-state tuition to these young people goes to two Tampa Bay Republicans: House Speaker Will Weatherford of Wesley Chapel and Sen. Jack Latvala of Clearwater. Without their leadership, the issue easily could have died again. Scott, who will sign the legislation into law, also provided a helping hand in the final days of the legislative session.

Along the way, there still were the unenlightened lawmakers who argued that in-state tuition should be paid only by high school students who are American citizens. What they failed to appreciate is that these undocumented students were brought to Florida as young children by their parents or other relatives and had no choice. Taxpayers already have invested heavily in their public education, and these students already are contributing to their high schools and to their broader communities. Providing them with the same opportunity as their classmates to attend a state college or university will prepare those students to make even more significant contributions to the state's economy and civic life.

Several Tampa Bay legislators who voted against the bill, HB 851, will find themselves on the wrong side of history: Republican Sens. Jeff Brandes of St. Petersburg and Tom Lee of Brandon, and Republican Reps. Larry Ahern of Seminole, Richard Corcoran of Land O'Lakes, Jamie Grant of Tampa and Jimmie Smith of Inverness.

For other Republicans, there is a political calculus to embracing this public policy. This is an election year, and Republicans have been losing support from Hispanic voters who are upset with Scott's botched attempt to purge the voter rolls and other issues. Allowing undocumented high school students to pay in-state tuition could start to repair some of that political damage.

Regardless of the various motivations, this is a positive step for the state and most of Tampa Bay's legislators from both political parties agreed. Florida will become the 20th state to allow in-state tuition for undocumented students who were brought to the country illegally. The state and all of its residents will be better for it.

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Editorial: As USFSP consolidation task force meets, openness and collaboration are key

Editorial: As USFSP consolidation task force meets, openness and collaboration are key

Writing a new law that phases out separate accreditation for the University of South Florida St. Petersburg and folds it back into the major research university was the easy part. The hard work starts today when a new consolidation task force holds i...
Updated: 11 hours ago

Correction

CorrectionCircuit Judge John Stargel of Lakeland is a member of the Florida Constitution Revision Commission who voted against a proposed amendment that would have stopped write-in candidates from closing primary elections. An editorial Saturday inco...
Published: 04/23/18
Editorial: Pruitt sets new low for ethics at EPA

Editorial: Pruitt sets new low for ethics at EPA

Not too many people took then-candidate Donald Trump seriously when he famously campaigned to "drain the swamp" as president. But that shouldn’t give this administration a free pass to excuse the behavior of Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Env...
Published: 04/22/18
Updated: 04/23/18
Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Allegiant Air’s safety record remains troubling, and the Federal Aviation Administration’s reluctance to talk about it is no more encouraging. Those are the key takeaways from a 60 Minutes report on the low-cost carrier’s high rate of mid-flight brea...
Published: 04/21/18

Editorial: Women’s work undervalued in bay area

Even a strong economy and low unemployment cannot overcome the persistent pay gap affecting full-time working women in Florida. A new report shows women in Florida earned 12.5 percent less on average than their male counterparts, and the disparities ...
Published: 04/21/18
Editorial: Florida’s death penalty fading away on its own

Editorial: Florida’s death penalty fading away on its own

Florida lawmakers may never take the death penalty off the books, but stronger forces are steadily eroding this inhumane, outdated tool of injustice. Court rulings, subsequent changes to law and waning public support have significantly suppressed the...
Published: 04/20/18
Updated: 04/24/18

Editorial: A missed chance for open primary elections

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission did a lot of things wrong this week by combining unrelated or unpalatable provisions into single amendments that will appear on the November ballot. It also wasted an opportunity to do one thing right. The...
Published: 04/20/18
Updated: 04/23/18
Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

For all the symbolism, Raul Castro’s handoff of the Cuban presidency this week amounts to less than meets the eye even if his handpicked successor, the Communist Party functionary Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez, is the first person not named Castro to le...
Published: 04/20/18
Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

The Hillsborough school district planted a fruitful seed with the opening of Nature’s Classroom five decades ago on the cypress-lined banks of the Hillsborough River northeast of Tampa. • The lessons taught there to some 17,000 sixth graders each yea...
Published: 04/20/18

Editorial: Equality pays off on Southwest Flight 1380

The passengers of Southwest Flight 1380 can be thankful that, 33 years ago, the U.S. Navy took the lead on equal opportunity.Capt. Tammie Jo Shults was piloting the flight from New York to Dallas on Tuesday when an engine exploded, blowing out a wind...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18