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Washington State Higher Education Cuts Led to 2nd Largest Tuition Increase in Nation

Posted by Kim Justice at May 01, 2014 12:20 PM |
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A college education opens doors to better jobs, higher wages, and increased economic stability. Yet, rising tuition rates have diminished the prospect of attending college for many Washingtonians.  Our state has experienced the 2nd steepest tuition increase in the nation since the recession hit, according to a new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.   

When the Great Recession hit in 2008 and tax revenue dropped, Washington state lawmakers overwhelmingly relied on cuts to higher education and other important investments in order to balance the state budget. According to the new report, authored by former B &PC Analyst, Mike Mitchell,  Washington state has cut funding for higher education by 27.8 percent since 2008 after adjusting for inflation. That’s equivalent to a decrease of $2,498 per student. To fill the funding void left by budget cuts, tuition and fees were allowed to rise by 60.7 percent or $4,085 for the typical student during this same time period. This is the 2nd largest tuition increase in the nation (see graph).

tuition

In the current budget cycle, policymakers put a freeze on further tuition increases and made some small investments. Yet even with these modest improvements, state funding still remains below 2008 levels, after adjusting for inflation. 

When lawmakers reconvene to write the next two-year budget they will face the hefty task of investing at least an additional $2 billion to provide high quality education for students in K-12. This is a critical investment, but only one piece of the education pipeline. It’s not enough to just provide opportunities for kids through high school. Renewed investments in higher education will be needed to provide those graduating high school students a shot at a college education and a more prosperous future. 

Policymakers can generate new resources to invest in higher education and other important public priorities by closing wasteful tax breaks, broadening the state sales tax to include modern goods and services, and adopting a new tax on profit from the sale of corporate stocks and other high-end financial assets.

 
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HIGHLIGHTS

Watch the Budget Matters Plenary 

View the Budget Matters 2016 conference plenary panel, "What's at Stake in the 2017-2019 Budget: Funding McCleary and Beyond," on TVW. Moderated by Ann Dornfeld of KUOW with a budget overview by our own Andy Nicholas, the panel features Nathan Gibbs-Bowling, the 2016 Washington State Teacher of the Year; Lew Moore of the Washington Research Council; Roxana Norouzi of OneAmerica; and Sen. Christine Rolfes. The plenary starts after a brief intro by Executive Director Misha Werschkul and an intro video by Gov. Inslee.

Our Legislative Agenda

Our agenda for the 2015-2017 biennium calls for an equitable, sustainable revenue system in addition to state investments that: promote a world-class education system; sustain a strong middle class; produce living-wage jobs, and ensure that all Washingtonians have equal opportunity to get ahead. 

Testimonies in Olympia

We testified in support of a number of important bills during the 2016 legislative session. Take a look:

  • Our testimony (at the 23:23 minute mark) on the House Bill that would take a two-generation approach to preventing poverty 
  • Our testimony (at the 1:54:09 mark) on the House bill focused on aerospace-related tax breaks
  • Our House testimony (at the 9:25 mark) and Senate testimony (at the 1:44:54 mark) on the two-generation approach to poverty prevention bill 

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