The holiday break didn't stop Senate President Don Gaetz from weighing in on one of the most controversial bills of the session.
On Thursday, Gaetz sent an email to his constituents in Northwest Florida voicing opposition to Senate Bill 1400. The proposal by Sen. Jack Latvala would allow undocumented students to pay in-state tuition rates at Florida colleges and universities.
A version of the bill has already passed in the House.
The Senate bill has 20 co-sponsors, meaning it has enough support to pass on the upper chamber floor. But in order for that vote to even take place, Latvala must first secure a hearing in the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Gaetz, R-Niceville, has had issues with the bill since the beginning of session.
He made his position clear in his electronic newsletter Thursday.
"Though I am likely in the minority in the Legislature on this matter, I cannot support taxpayer subsidies in the form of tuition discounts for undocumented or illegal students," he wrote.
Gaetz acknowledged that the issue was politically charged.
"I am told it is 'good politics' to support Sen. Latvala’s bill, that it will help Republican candidates appeal to Hispanic voters in the 2014 and 2016 elections," he wrote. "Perhaps. It is certainly true that the Republican Party has lost much of the Hispanic support President Bush earned in 2000 and 2004 and that Gov. Jeb Bush still has in our state and across the nation."
But Gaetz argued that SB 1400 is "not limited to Hispanics."
"It casts a blanket of approval over non-citizens who are in this country without proper legal status from anywhere in the world, including countries which are caldrons of terrorism and anti-American violence," he wrote. "There is no improper or careless intent behind the legislation, but this bill goes much further than merely reaching out to Hispanic voters."
Gaetz later pointed out that undocumented students are able to enroll in public universities.
"The question posed by SB 1400 is not whether undocumented students will have access to a Florida public college or university education that is supported by Florida taxpayers -- they already do," Gaetz wrote. "The question is the extent to which parents, struggling to save for their own children’s education, and taxpayers, slowly recovering from a deep recession, should be mandated to pay for substantially increased tuition subsidies for non-citizens, who have not attained legal status in our country."