Edmonds Military Wire: Veterans become political bargaining chip, lose to illegal immigrants
For the second year in a row, in-state tuition for out-of-state veterans has failed to become law, putting Washington state at risk at not being able to attract new talent as well as risking improved revenue for higher education institutions.
Twenty six other states have already passed and adopted the measure to provide in-state tuition to out-of-state veterans and despite Senate Bill 5318 passing the Senate 48-0 last year and 45-0 this year and House Bill 1011 passing the House 98-0 last month, leaders in the Republican-run Senate and Democrat-led House disagree on which chamber should get credit.
The issue of “who should get the credit” stems from the Democrat-led House giving way to the Republican-run Senate on credit for what the House called the “Dream Act” and the Senate calls the “Real Hope Act;” the Real Hope Act, which was signed into law by Gov. Jay Inslee the beginning of March, provides tuition assistance or free tuition to illegal immigrants. The act allows undocumented immigrants to apply for state need grants to help pay for college. A total of $5 million dollars was committed toward this Act.
With higher education being a first-choice option for many transitioning service members, states that offer in-state tuition covered by the GI Bill is often a deciding factor on where the service member chooses to go.
Washington State legislators were successful in bargaining for tuition assistance for undocumented immigrants, but failed to do the same for veterans.
Bottom line: What is evident is that party politics gave way to doing the right thing. We get more done when we don’t care who gets the credit – of course, one could argue I’m politically naïve…or that I care more about mission above self.
– By Michael Schindler
Michael Schindler, Navy veteran, and president of Edmonds-based Operation Military Family, is a guest writer for several national publications, author of the book “Operation Military Family” and “The Military Wire” blog. He is also a popular keynote and workshop speaker who reaches thousands of service members and their families every year through workshops and seminars that include “How to Battle-Ready Your Relationship” or “What Your Mother-in-Law Didn’t Tell You.” He received the 2010 Outstanding Patriotic Service Award from the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs.