Since Idaho voters passed HJR 101 in November, eliminating a 120-year-old prohibition on charging tuition at the University of Idaho (UI has instead charged only “fees”), Idaho lawmakers now are moving legislation to match state laws to the constitutional change. HB 20 would permit tuition to be charged at UI just as it is at all the other state colleges and universities. “This basically sets a level playing field for all of our institutions … in regard to tuition,” said Rep. Tom Trail, R-Moscow, the bill's House sponsor.
Rep. Grant Burgoyne, D-Boise, spoke against the bill. “I think we are moving in the wrong direction in Idaho,” he said. “I think rather than making college more expensive for our students, college should be less expensive for our students. I think the constitutional amendment was a mistake. … We have an issue about the commitment of the state of Idaho to higher education.” But the bill passed on a 60-5 vote and now goes to the Senate.
Rep. Shirley Ringo, D-Moscow, said the change won't boost costs to students; “tuition” is fees that support classroom instruction. “It simply gives the University of Idaho the flexibility to spend those monies in the way that they most need to, and that's really important to them,” she said.
Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.
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