Tuition Equality Falls Short by One Vote

This statement was released today by the Tennessee Immigrant & Refugee Rights Coalition:

Nashville – This afternoon, the Tuition Equality bill failed to pass in the House on a vote of 49-47, lacking the constitutional majority (50) required for passage. Three members were not present for the vote. The bill was referred back to Calendar and Rules and can be reconsidered next legislative session, without having to be reconsidered in the Senate or committees it has already passed.

When TIRRC youth members gathered on graduation day in May of 2012 to announce their campaign for Tuition Equality, they pledged to one another that they would educate their community, lobby lawmakers, and tell their stories until Tuition Equality was a reality in Tennessee. After three years of campaigning, we are disappointed but not deterred by today’s vote. The fact that the bill passed the Senate last Thursday by a vote of 21-12 and earned the support of 49 House members is a testament to the leadership and resilience of TIRRC’s youth members.

The following is a quote from Stephanie Teatro, Co-Executive Director of TIRRC:

“In Chairman White’s closing comments on the floor, he asked his colleagues to make the right decision and show leadership on a tough issue. Many members failed to lead today, including many that had previously committed their support, faltering at the last minute. We wish that members of the General Assembly had demonstrated as much courage and leadership as the immigrant students who have fought for this legislation, the same students who are now effectively denied access to an affordable college education for another year.”

The following is a quote from Cesar Bautista, DACA recipient and leader in TIRRC’s campaign for tuition equality: 

“It’s hard to believe that we were only one vote away from having tuition equality. We will continue to organize and campaign for tuition equality so that the Class of 2015 can be the last class to graduate and have to pay three times as much as their peers. I want the General Assembly to know that by failing to pass tuition equality, they are not only holding ambitious students like me back, but they voted to hold our whole state back.”

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