New Mexico’s Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed a bill into law on Wednesday that offers free college tuition to some illegal aliens. The program will be paid for using pandemic relief funds.
The New Mexico Opportunity Scholarship Act “opens the door for every New Mexican to reach higher, strengthening our economy, our families and our communities,” Lujan Grisham said in a press release.
The New York Times reports that the program will cost $75 million, with $63 million coming from COVID-19 relief funds. The money will also be available to prison inmates and members of tribal nations.
The biggest problem is that once those pandemic relief funds are exhausted, the state is going to have to find cash from other sources.
Per the administration’s calculations, the scholarship is expected to support up to 35,000 students starting in the fall semester.
Scholarships will be reserved for students who have not earned a Bachelor’s degree and are enrolled in a minimum of six credit hours but do not surpass 18 in one semester.
Students must meet the evaluated criteria to renew for the next semester, including maintaining a 2.5 GPA.
What were those pandemic relief funds earmarked for? As those of us who opposed the states getting these enormous sums that they mostly didn’t need believed at the time, the states — especially those run by Democrats — would use the cash as a slush fund to bankroll projects they wouldn’t ordinarily pay for.
Some supporters and critics of the New Mexico law warn that it could be more of a trial run than established practice. Building on earlier tuition-assistance programs, the measure allocates $75 million during the 2023 fiscal year, of which $63 million comes from pandemic relief funds. Beyond its first year, legislators will need to draw funds from other sources to keep the program going.
Even so, prominent backers in both parties express confidence that the program is here to stay in a state where Hispanic and Native-American residents together account for more than 60 percent of the population. In a sign that consensus on tuition-free college is building around New Mexico, a group of Republicans in the Democratic-controlled legislature crossed party lines to support the measure.
New Mexico may be leading the way in funding college and community colleges for residents. But using money given to the state to combat the pandemic is a dishonest use of that cash, especially since the beneficiaries are here illegally.