Weatherford Democrat

September 26, 2011

Competence over ancestry is best

Dennis Tilly
Weatherford Democrat

WEATHERFORD — During the Sept. 12 Republican presidential debate, Governor Perry was sharply criticized for his support for the in-state college tuition rates charged the children of illegal workers that have been longtime residence of Texas and are graduates of Texas high schools. He was called un-American, unconstitutional and a panderer to the Hispanic vote.

I must admit I think the governor is correct to support students who are Americans in every respect except place of birth. Most of these young people were brought to Texas as young children, have attended Texas schools and are socially, culturally and practically American citizens.

The reason for in-state and out-of-state college tuition rates has nothing to do with place of birth. The determining factor is whether the student and his or her parents paid state taxes in Texas or some other state. The theory is that residents of Texas have already contributed toward the cost of secondary education through their taxes and are entitled to a lower rate than out-of-state residents.

In Texas, state taxes are chiefly collected through property and sales taxes. Anyone who has lived in Texas for years has paid the same tax rate, regardless of immigration status. I’ve heard people say that illegal immigrants don’t pay property taxes because they usually rent. That argument does not consider that every landlord passes on property costs to their renters, which include insurance and property taxes.

So, if all residents of Texas pay basically the same tax rate, why shouldn’t young people wanting a college education be entitled to in-state rates? Do we really think Texas couldn’t use more college-trained workers? Personally, I prefer competence over ancestry.

Dennis Tilly is a guest columnist and resident of Weatherford. He is double retired from the Air Force and insurance business.