Pin down Republicans who sound as if they support reduced tuition for undocumented college

Reporters should be on the lookout for Republicans who try to make themselves sound like they support reducing college tuition rates for undocumented college students, but when it comes to specifics, they actually say nothing but gobbledygook.

Here’s an example of what not to do, from Rocky Mountain Community Radio reporter Bente Birkeland’s Dec. 31 interview with Colorado Senate Minority Leader Bill Cadman about the upcoming legislative session:

Birkeland: One of the contentious bills that will be coming back is a bill that offers this lower tuition rate to students who graduate from Colorado high schools. In the past, the GOP in both chambers has not supported that measure. Do you see any movement on the issue?

Cadman: Sure. I think what we’re looking for is tuition equity [editor’s note: gobbledygook]. We’re looking for a solid formula that allows people affordable access to quality higher ed [editor’s note: gobbledygook]. What we need to do systemically is put something forward that shows an equitable access for everybody, not based on some specific criteria [editor’s note: gobbledygook].

Three things could be going on here, in light of the presence of the gobbledygook.

One, Cadman and fellow Republicans have opposed reduced tuition rates for so long that they can’t bring themselves to say they’ll support lowering the rates this year. They can’t get the words out of their mouths. (See Rep. Libby Szabo, “I don’t comment on anything I have not seen,” and CU Prez Bruce Benson, “I’m not going to tell you exactly how I feel.”)

Or more likely, Cadman still opposes helping undocumented students, but he doesn’t want to say it as directly as he used to (See below.), for fear of driving even more Hispanics away from the GOP, as seen in the last election. And he doesn’t think his indecision will further poison the Republican brand among Hispanics—because he doesn’t think reporters will call him out on it.

Or Cadman doesn’t know what to say.

Or maybe a combination?

In any case, Birkeland should have asked him, specifically, if he’d vote for the reduced-tuition bill, if it came up in exactly the same form as last year.

Would he even consider voting “yes” this time, when he voted against the measure just nine months ago, telling the Colorado Statesman’s Peter Marcus in April:

Cadman: “You’re providing a benefit to someone who doesn’t legally deserve it.” [Note to reporters: All Republican state Senators voted against the bill last year. Also, no public funds would be provided.]

As it was, Birkeland let Cadman sound like he stands behind not only undocumented students but every single college student in the state of Colorado. That’s great, but what is he prepared to do about it? And, again, what about those pesky undocumented high-school graduates who grew up with our own kids? Should colleges have the option of offering them in-state tuition rates?

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