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Minority leader Mike May on why he opposes in-state tution for undocumented students: "Membership has its privileges"

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Mike May, minority leader of the Colorado House, is coming to the end of what he calls "my eighth and final year down there" -- but he's not going quietly. Yesterday, he introduced the 7th District electorate to Ryan Frazier, who dropped his U.S. Senate campaign in order to run against Representative Ed Perlmutter, and lambasted Governor Bill Ritter when it was revealed that one of the prisoners set free early in a cost-savings move had a previous child sex-assault conviction.

In addition, he's leading the charge against state rep Joe Miklosi's measure to let undocumented students attend Colorado colleges at in-state-tuition rates. In his words, "It's just bizarre when our governor is releasing convicted felons and we're making all these other cutbacks in a time of almost unprecedented economic crunch at the state Capitol that they're busy trying to extend an entitlement to people who aren't citizens of the United States. I don't know when they're going to hear 'no' loud enough."

The poster child for Miklosi's effort is an unnamed fifteen-year-old math genius who wrote in an essay that the only equation she couldn't solve involved the nine digits in the Social Security number she wishes she had but doesn't. The tale leaves May's heart unmelted, however.

"To somehow suggest that she's going to go to prison if we don't give her money for school is preposterous," he maintains. "That doesn't mean I'm not mindful of the young lady's plight -- but she's not a citizen, and membership has its privileges. I'm happy that she's done well in school, but there's a route for her to become a citizen, and that's what she should do.

"There are thousands of compelling stories for citizens who are having trouble going to school, too," he goes on. "And if there's a desk available at CU or CSU or any other college for an in-state tuition, we should give it to a citizen."

May also contradicts Miklosi's insistence that his proposal wouldn't cost the state any money. Again using the teenage math wiz as an example, he says, "If she went to college without this bill, she'd be paying out-of-state tuition, and that's a big price difference." As for the argument that this distinction is moot, since out-of-state tuition would prevent her from attending college at all, he says, "We don't know that -- and if she went under this bill, the state would get less money anyway."

That's some mighty fuzzy math -- but May prefers not to get bogged down in minutia. "If this weren't a financial issue, there wouldn't be a bill about it," he declares.

Of course, the financial issue appears to impact potential students much more than the state budget. Politically, though, that likely won't matter. According to May, a variation on Miklosi's bill has surfaced each year he's been in office, "and it's gone down every time. We're seven for seven so far. We'll see how year eight goes."

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