Washington State House Democrats


Rep. Gerry Pollet’s statement on the Senate Republican’s Higher Education proposal

“Washington families deserve a higher education system that provides each and every student the opportunity to achieve their fullest potential without breaking the bank to do so. That is why I have championed legislation for the past three years to move the State to a goal that tuition should not exceed ten percent of the average family’s income in order for the opportunity of higher education to be affordable to every Washingtonian.

I am happy to see that Senate Republicans are stepping up and engaging in the conversation to make Washington’s higher education system more affordable for all our students. However, their proposal appears to be a day late and a quarter billion dollars short.

Yesterday, the House Higher Education Committee voted to pass HB 1238 to move us towards this goal.

While there appears to be agreement that the economic burden on families (tuition) must be lessened, the question we must ask is how to do this in the most responsible fashion. Getting this right will ensure future generations the opportunity to get a world class education without taking on mountains of debt to do so.

The 2013-15 budget initially passed by the Senate Republicans called for a tuition freeze, without providing any associated state funds for institutions. This was a Trojan horse budget cut, which would have forced institutions to cut the quality and access of programs for students, as the price of a tuition freeze.

This year, we continue to fight for responsible approaches to making higher education more affordable. That’s why we passed out of the House Higher Education Committee yesterday HB 1238 with bipartisan support. This bill will direct the institutions and others to sit down and design strategies, including the state funding needed, to ensure tuition does not exceed 10 percent of the median family income in Washington.

We hope the Senate proposal is not just another cost shift. They are not saying where they will get the money to pay for the tuition reduction, which means they will have to either raise revenue, slash students’ classes, financial aid and other higher education programs, or cut other state programs. I am sure that the House will continue to lead in providing the responsible funding to pay for avoiding a tuition increase and chart a path towards increased affordability without slashing the very programs students seek to attend.