BOISE – The Idaho House of Representatives easily passed a bill Friday that will allow the state’s colleges and universities, except for the University of Idaho, to charge tuition.
“This puts the focus on where student money should be spent, and that’s good, quality instruction,” said Rep. Mack Shirley, R-Rexburg, one of the bill’s sponsors.
HB 231 amends part of state law that forbids schools from charging residents for college tuition. In 1986, lawmakers defined tuition as the cost of student instruction – leaving the state free to charge fees for things like the maintenance of the schools and student services.
The measure, which passed on a 49-18 vote, applies to Boise State, Idaho State and Lewis-Clark State College. The Idaho Constitution protects UI students from paying tuition.
Most House Democrats argued the bill would lead to higher tuition costs for students who have already taken on an increased financial burden.
“This puts more on the students, and that’s a step backwards,” said Rep. George Sayler, D-Coeur d’Alene, who added that in the last 10 years student fees have increased more than 130 percent.
Students from ISU, UI and LCSC oppose the measure.
“If I thought this bill was detrimental to education I wouldn’t have sponsored it,” Shirley said.
Moscow Reps. Tom Trail and Shirley Ringo as well as Rep. Mary Lou Shepherd, D-Prichard, joined Sayler in opposing the bill, while the rest of North Idaho’s delegation voted for the measure, which now moves to the Senate.
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