Higher education funding safe
Published: Monday, April 16, 2012
Updated: Monday, April 16, 2012 16:04
The legislator’s special session in Olympia has finally ended, leaving many wondering what politicians have been doing all this time as the budget passed is virtually identical to the one originally proposed by the Democrats. For us, however, it is a time to celebrate.
“The budget that finally passed Wednesday morning is one students can take pride in; for the first time in over three years, we have seen the legislature pass a budget without cutting higher education,” says Eric Lint, ASUWT Legislative Liaison, who was in Olympia almost daily throughout the winter advocating for higher education.
While this means that a massive hike in tuition for the 2012-2013 year may not be forthcoming, it does not mean that higher education, or our state, is out of the woods yet. Although we have received no further cuts, there has also been no additional funding, and the university must still make up the previous years’ severe cuts. In fact, some legislators project that the decided upon approach, which they call short-sighted, will result in a massive deficit for the next biennium, from which education may never recover.
Unfortunately, higher education is one area of the state budget that remains virtually unprotected from cuts. As we, unlike most public programs, have a steady revenue stream coming from tuition, the legislature looks to higher education first during times when cuts must be made.
To try and remedy this problem, Governor Gregoire signed into law the new Student Achievement Council. This board of nine people, including a student and a representative from each of the four public four-year universities, functions mainly to advocate for higher education. Their goal is to increase educational attainment in our state.
Still, it is our responsibility to advocate for education and make it clear to our representatives that subsidized higher education is crucial for our state and country. Fortunately as higher education is becoming a bigger issue, many are beginning to see it as necessary as K-12 and more politicians are running on a platform that places great focus on higher education.
So, while the future of our state’s budget and higher education funding are still shaky, we can be glad about this year’s decision, and continue to fight for even more progress in the next biennium.