Don’t cut GET just yet

Rep. Larry Seaquist

A new report from the state actuary illustrates how the state’s Guaranteed Education Tuition (GET) program, which currently has a projected $631 million unfunded liability, can move quickly from red to black.

The report, and subsequent testimony from State Treasurer Jim McIntire and State Actuary Matt Smith, illustrates how holding the line on tuition increases for the next two years and increasing state support for instructional costs will quickly lead to a healthy GET reserve.

Rep. Larry Seaquist, (D-Gig Harbor), chair of the House Higher Education Committee, believes this report could provide the momentum needed to dramatically slow or freeze current tuition increases and reach a goal of 50 percent state support for instructional costs.

“I’m very proud of how our Higher Ed committee is working on a thoughtful, bipartisan basis to assure a quality education opportunity for all our state’s citizens,” said Rep. Seaquist.

During the 2012 session, the Legislature finished with strong bipartisan agreement that after several years of budget cuts it was time to stop cutting education. This year, the bipartisan group is working toward an agreement to stop increasing tuition and get the costs of going to college under control.

“We need more students in our colleges and universities, not less,” said Seaquist. “GET is an innovative program that’s helped over 27,000 students pay for college. It’s time to strengthen the program, not toss it out.”

GET is an investment program where participants can buy “units” at a fixed priced today and use those units to pay for college tuition in the future. GET units are fully backed by the state regardless of future tuition increases.

“Our committee is acting now on the two bills needed to cement GET in place,” said Seaquist. “Both bills have bipartisan support.”

Those two bills are:

  • HB 1624 – Setting the goal of a 50/50 ratio of state support/tuition for instructional costs.
  • HB 1043 – Removing differential tuition authority at the state universities and community colleges for resident undergraduates.
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