OLYMPIA – The final budget agreed by the Legislature today enacts major priorities in the district pushed by Representative Steve Tharinger (D-Dungeness) including a reduced tuition rate for statewide universities and community colleges, expanded degrees in engineering and in cybersecurity at Peninsula College, and expanded computer science education statewide.
“In our region, these four-year degrees will help fill open jobs in electrical engineering, computer science, and cybersecurity,” said Rep. Tharinger. “I want to thank my colleagues in the House for making sure the final budget reflected this absolutely critical need in our region.”
“Because of the unmet need with these jobs, adding new programs and expanding on existing programs that train people in these fields will grow our local economy and guarantee good, quality, family wage jobs in our communities,” added Rep. Tharinger.
The partnership with Western Washington University would bring a Bachelor’s in Computer and Information Systems Security and expands the existing partnership with Washington State University for Olympic College to offer a degree in Electrical Engineering.
In addition, community colleges across the state will see a cut in tuition of over $150 per student enrolled in associate’s degree and certificate programs and over $1,000 in applied baccalaureate programs, such as nursing and computer information systems.
“Closing tax loopholes to make education, including higher education in our community colleges, was the right approach and I’m glad we were able to negotiate this better plan with the Senate and get the right plan in place,” said Rep. Tharinger.
Leaders in the House, with specific leadership from Rep. Drew Hansen (D-Bainbridge Island), prioritized a new computer science education grant program to help train students for high paying jobs in the technology industry. The program creates a $2 million public fund that will be matched from the private sector and creates grants to train and credential teachers in computers science. It will also help engage underrepresented groups to educate them about career paths in computer science and upgrade technology in classrooms.
“We have to look forward and make sure our future generations are prepared for a 21st century economy,” said Rep. Tharinger. “I’m proud that we’re making our children a priority.”