NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Wednesday, March 6th, 2013

Returning to 2/3rds rule an attack on our colleges

Last week when Tim Eyman’s I‑1053 was declared uncon­sti­tu­tion­al there was much cheer­ing and rejoic­ing across the state of Wash­ing­ton, not least through the halls of Face­book and Twit­ter. Many of these voic­es were stu­dents at our uni­ver­si­ties, who have seen more than 1.4 bil­lion cut from our state high­er edu­ca­tion sys­tem since 2009, increased debt, and less acces­si­ble forms of finan­cial aid because of the increased use of the State Need Grant and cuts to work study. While work study sur­vived its pro­posed sus­pen­sion last year, the cur­rent pro­gram serves 2/3rds (that num­ber just keeps on pop­ping up does­n’t it?) less stu­dents than just a few years ago.

As stat­ed on Cross­cut last elec­tion sea­son:

For high­er edu­ca­tion, cuts in state fund­ing are direct­ly linked through the super­ma­jor­i­ty require­ment to shrink­ing finan­cial aid and sky­rock­et­ing tuition that have been so cru­el to ordi­nary fam­i­lies and their chil­dren. That’s because when tax­es can’t be adjust­ed under the super­ma­jor­i­ty reg­i­men, the only alter­na­tive is greater reliance on tuition and fees not sub­ject to the choke­hold. The result for many young peo­ple is doors slammed shut to high­er edu­ca­tion and for busi­ness­es a slen­der and under-pre­pared work­force Most agree that these are a very bad, very short­sight­ed direc­tions.

In fact, recent­ly a poll was released which shows that vot­ers in Wash­ing­ton “over­whelm­ing­ly sup­port pub­lic high­er edu­ca­tion and want to see fund­ing for the state’s col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties increased”. Not only do stu­dents who have seen uni­ver­si­ties become less acces­si­ble and afford­able want to see more mon­ey for high­er edu­ca­tion, put their par­ents, friends, and fam­i­lies do as well. As Rep. Ross Hunter stat­ed in his leg­isla­tive update yes­ter­day, “High­er edu­ca­tion is one of the areas at great­est risk in our bud­get process this year”, and this is pre­cise­ly because the leg­is­la­ture is unwill­ing to raise rev­enue to fund high­er edu­ca­tion and its oth­er com­mit­ments.

This is why try­ing to rein­state the 2/3ds super­ma­jor­i­ty plan into Sen­ate par­lia­men­tary rules is an attack on our Wash­ing­ton col­leges and oth­er ser­vices that stu­dents need to suc­ceed, because, hav­ing to beat back a pro­ject­ed 2.3 bil­lion dol­lar deficit, either tuition will be raised, or ser­vices that some stu­dents rely on to suc­ceed, like child­care, will be cut. When our new econ­o­my needs a high­ly edu­cat­ed work­force from all back­grounds, this is not the way to adapt.

Stu­dents are cel­e­brat­ing the Supreme Court rul­ing. But unless the leg­is­la­ture intends to use the door that has been opened to gen­uine­ly fund edu­ca­tion, to fund it more than just in name, to make the words “pro­tect afford­abil­i­ty” (because our edu­ca­tion sys­tem has become any­thing but afford­able) ring true, then our vic­to­ry is hol­low, and we have let Tim Eyman suc­ceed in turn­ing the clock back on our shared soci­ety.

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  1. […] Return­ing to 2/3rds rule an attack on our col­leges […]

    Ping from Morning Rundown for March 7th, 2013 :: March 7th, 2013 at 9:30 AM