A new law has been passed over a veto by Governor Jay Nixon that would bar students without a certain federal immigration status from qualifying for an A+ scholarship. That program allows eligible Missouri high school students to earn two years of tuition at a qualifying community college, paid by a grant from the state.
Senator Jamilah Nasheed (D-St. Louis) argued with rhe bill’s sponsor, Senator Gary Romine (R-Farmington), that the program needs more funding for all students, rather than to free up money by removing some students’ eligibility.
“Why won’t you just champion the cause to increase funding for the A+ scholarship program, versus attack those individuals who are here at no fault of their own,” asked Nasheed.
“I’ve been working on this for over ten years. We had a comprehensive illegal immigration bill to deal with some of these issues. The bill finally failed, but the federal government failed,” said Romine.
Republicans say the dollars that support the scholarships are already stretched thin, and say opening it up to a new population would further reduce how much each student could receive.
Nixon vetoed the bill passed by the Legislature during the regular session that ended in May. Nixon said it’s unfair to those students who have worked hard for the scholarships and the state shouldn’t base Missouri students on their federal immigration status.
“I think it’s a mistake in policy to say to a student that while you’re in high school if you do all these hard things we’re gonna give you a scholarship and come back later on and take it away from them. It’s just a matter of fairness,” said Nixon.
The House voted 114-37 and the Senate voted 24-8 to override the veto. A two-thirds majority in both chambers was needed to overturn it.