Statement from House Budget Chairman Cody Smith Regarding the General Assembly’s Decision to Pass Legislation that Protects State Funding for Students Who Are Legal Residents

This week the Missouri House and Senate gave final approval to the state operating budget for Fiscal Year 2020. During debate on funding for the state’s system of higher education, House Budget Chairman Cody Smith and a majority of his colleagues in the legislature voted to preserve existing language in House Bill 3 that ensures state dollars are allocated only to students who are legal residents. The language in HB 3 prevents public institutions of higher education from using taxpayer dollars to offer in-state tuition to students with unlawful immigration status. The language was placed in the budget in 2015 in an effort to ensure taxpayer dollars are used only for students who are legal residents. While the Senate initially moved to remove the language, the House fought to keep it. After a version of the bill without the language failed to pass on the House floor, Chairman Smith and the members of the House voted to send the bill back to conference with the Senate. In the conference, members from the two legislative bodies agreed to put the language back into the bill. The bill then received final approval from both the House and Senate. The language in the budget will also continue to prohibit public institutions of higher education from providing these students with state-sponsored scholarships. The appropriations bills that make up the Fiscal Year 2020 budget now head to the governor’s desk for his approval.

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