Dear Friends and Neighbors,
As week four of the legislative session concludes, I am spending a lot of time working on higher education policy. I want to take this e-mail update to highlight some of the discussions we’re having about our state’s colleges and universities.
On Thursday, the House Higher Education Committee passed my bill (House Bill 1320) to create one Web site to give Washington students the information they need to get a degree. As the pressures on high school guidance counselors and college faculty advisors increase, students need additional resources to improve their articulation through school and to speed their time to degree. Among other benefits of an online advising portal, House Bill 1320 will improve transfer from community colleges to four-year universities.
The committee also passed House Bill 1331, for which I was the co-sponsor, to allow student government associations to form advisory committees to their schools’ administrations. Given steep tuition increases in recent years, it’s important that students be involved in discussions about tuition and policy. Students at the University of Washington have had great success with a Provost Advisory Committee. Such committees can help ensure that public and tuition dollars are being wisely spent.
The Legislature is debating the future of the Guaranteed Education Tuition (GET) program, our state’s prepaid college tuition savings plan. Some want to reform GET, while others want to preserve it in its current form. The future possibility of differential tuition rates at our universities (different tuition rates for different degrees) has raised concerns about the impact of such rates on the GET pricing formula. On Thursday, the House Higher Education Committee voted to place limits on the use of differential tuition.
As the Assistant Ranking member on the House Higher Education Committee, I have enjoyed a close collaboration with Chairman Larry Seaquist (D-Gig Harbor), Vice Chair Gerry Pollet (D-Seattle), and Ranking member Larry Haler (R-Richland). I look forward to continuing this partnership across party lines as the session goes forward.
And I hope that you’ll send your input on higher education and other issues before the Legislature.
For more on what’s going on in Olympia, watch my latest video update here.
468 John L.O'Brien Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 786-7968 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000