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.

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013

Inslee and Higher Ed: Disappointing

The past week has not been a good one for high­er edu­ca­tion. As Gov­er­nor Inslee (look­ing back to before Novem­ber, it feels nice to call him ‘Gov­er­nor’), released his bud­get pri­or­i­ties last Thurs­day, it includ­ed a rec­om­men­da­tion for tuition to increase 3–5% (3 per­cent for region­al uni­ver­si­ties like West­ern Wash­ing­ton Uni­ver­si­ty, 5 per­cent for Wash­ing­ton State Uni­ver­si­ty and the Uni­ver­si­ty of Wash­ing­ton). This is com­bined news from the mid­dle of March that the tuition increas­es in Wash­ing­ton are the sec­ond worst in the nation, rank­ing only behind Ari­zona. This also runs against the log­ic assert­ed by a recent poll which found that vot­ers in Wash­ing­ton state over­whelm­ing­ly sup­port increased fund­ing to high­er edu­ca­tion.

While this news con­tains a bit of per­son­al relief (I was raised in Ari­zona), Inslee’s rec­om­mend­ed tuition hike will add on to the near­ly $4,200 increase in tuition since 2008. While more mon­ey is pro­posed for finan­cial aid, this does noth­ing to solve the afford­abil­i­ty issues in high­er edu­ca­tion, espe­cial­ly because of the grow­ing “dead-zone” com­prised of stu­dents whose fam­i­lies make too much to receive finan­cial aid, but not enough to actu­al­ly pay for col­lege. In addi­tion, low income stu­dents are scared away by the “stick­er shock” of high tuition prices, regard­less of the aid they receive.

Addi­tion­al­ly, Inslee’s pro­pos­al cre­ates a “com­pet­i­tive enroll­ment pool” for schools to com­pete for mon­ey to increase slots for Sci­ence, Tech­nol­o­gy, Math­e­mat­ics, and Engi­neer­ing degrees. This is sim­i­lar to Gov­er­nor Gre­goire’s bud­get before she left office, but ignores high­er edu­ca­tion as a whole, even though he acknowl­edges how much tuition has increased in his bud­get pri­or­i­ty doc­u­ment.

In oth­er news detri­men­tal for our sys­tem of high­er edu­ca­tion, the Wash­ing­ton State DREAM Act is dead. Despite a coali­tion of immi­grant, stu­dent, and youth orga­ni­za­tions, HB 1817  failed to be put to a vote in the Sen­ate High­er Edu­ca­tion Com­mit­tee, despite hav­ing the votes to go into law.  Although the cur­rent Sen­ate Major­i­ty Leader, Rod­ney Tom (~-Med­i­na), sup­ports the DREAM Act, this either calls into ques­tion his effec­tive­ness as Major­i­ty Leader or his sup­port of the DREAM Act itself.

This out­come is not expect­ed, see­ing as after the hear­ing for the Act last Thurs­day Sen­a­tor Bar­bara Bai­ley, the Chair of the Sen­ate High­er Edu­ca­tion Com­mit­tee, pub­lished an op-ed say­ing that the DREAM Act was an unfund­ed bill, despite sup­port­ing a bill that would allow more than 1,000 stu­dents attend­ing West­ern Gov­er­nors’ Uni­ver­si­ty access to the same source of finan­cial aid. West­ern Gov­er­nors’ Uni­ver­si­ty is an entire­ly online uni­ver­si­ty, and it seems that Sen­a­tor Bai­ley would rather sup­port a very pecu­liar form of edu­ca­tion rather than see stu­dents who are undoc­u­ment­ed, stu­dents who are striv­ing to achieve their degrees and have over­come giant obsta­cles to be at the best uni­ver­si­ties in the nation for degree com­ple­tion.

The next step in high­er edu­ca­tion fund­ing will be when both hous­es of the leg­is­la­ture release their bud­get. As this process hap­pens, stu­dents are strug­gling to pay for col­lege, and uni­ver­si­ties are strug­gling to retain fac­ul­ty and staff that will con­tin­ue offer­ing the qual­i­ty edu­ca­tion stu­dents need for suc­cess. Addi­tion­al­ly, it will be crit­i­cal that fund­ing for high­er edu­ca­tion comes from new rev­enue, as if it orig­i­nates from cuts to oth­er pro­grams it will affect stu­dents just the same, as many cur­rent and future stu­dents rely upon pro­grams such food assis­tance the same as non-stu­dents in our state. In fact, these pro­grams con­tribute to pro­vid­ing stu­dents the oppor­tu­ni­ty to earn their degree.

Gov­er­nor Inslee’s bud­get pri­or­i­ty pro­pos­al was dis­ap­point­ing regard­ing high­er edu­ca­tion, and while it includ­ed much need­ed invest­ments in K‑12 edu­ca­tion and health­care, it is crit­i­cal that high­er edu­ca­tion is made more afford­able and acces­si­ble for stu­dents in Wash­ing­ton; both cur­rent stu­dents and stu­dents to come. Whether the Sen­ate will do so with­out cut­ting oth­er pro­grams is unsure; the best chances for the best bud­get for all parts of our state, a respon­si­ble bud­get for our com­mon­wealth, will like­ly come from the House.

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3 Comments

  1. It seems Wash­ing­ton State is in a race to the bot­tom. Not ade­quate­ly fund­ing either K‑12 or high­er edu­ca­tion means few­er to enter a skilled work­force pool. Instead tech com­pa­nies will clam­or for more visas for work­ers from India and oth­er coun­tries. Right now Wash­ing­ton State is a net importer of com­put­er sci­ence and engi­neers and oth­ers with BA and advanced degrees. A recent report not­ed that the UW turned away 34 of its appli­cants for com­put­er sci­ence degrees, not hav­ing mon­ey to expand the pro­gram. Mean­while the tech com­pa­nies like Microsoft that say they need more skilled work­ers con­tin­ue to take tax breaks they don’t need. You can read some inter­est­ing com­men­tary on this by Brier Dud­ley on his blog post “Edu­ca­tion tax­es loom, but will tech com­pa­nies pay” http://blogs.seattletimes.com/brierdudley/2013/01/28/education_taxes_loom_will_tech/

    # by Steve Zemke :: April 3rd, 2013 at 11:40 AM
  2. I think it’s great that 1817 failed. It was yet anoth­er incen­tive and reward for ille­gal immi­gra­tion. We need to stop encour­ag­ing and reward­ing ille­gal acts. 1817 was an insult to the rule of law and an insult to LEGAL immi­grants, who stood in line.

    I wel­come legal immi­grants. But, no, I won’t hand out free­bies to law­break­ers.

    # by Ricardo :: April 3rd, 2013 at 2:54 PM
  3. I think it’s great that 1817 failed. It was yet anoth­er incen­tive and reward for ille­gal immi­gra­tion. We need to stop encour­ag­ing and reward­ing ille­gal acts. 1817 was an insult to the rule of law and an insult to LEGAL immi­grants, who stood in line.

    I wel­come legal immi­grants. But, no, I won’t hand out free­bies to law­break­ers.

    # by Ricardo :: April 15th, 2013 at 6:37 AM

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  1. […] Inslee and High­er Ed: Dis­ap­point­ing […]

    Ping from Morning Rundown for April 4th, 2013 :: April 4th, 2013 at 9:32 AM