Leaders in the state Senate and House have reached a significant bipartisan agreement on the state’s two-year operating budget. Included in the budget is the Senate’s proposal to reduce tuition at state colleges and universities, sponsored by deputy majority leader Sen. John Braun, R-Centralia. Over the next two years the legislation reduces college tuition by 15 percent at research institutions like the University of Washington, 20 percent at regional universities such as Western Washington University, and 5 percent at community and technical colleges. The budget includes significant investments in basic education, with over 47 percent of the state’s spending going to K-12 education.
“This budget is a bipartisan compromise but it is one that speaks to our values,” said Braun, a lead Senate budget negotiator. “The Senate stopped the biggest tax increases in state history. We focused our state’s spending on education at all levels: early learning, K-12 and higher education and led the nation by reducing tuition at our state universities and colleges. Our budget is balanced, sustainable and lives up to the values of our community.”
Going forward, college tuition will be tied to growth in the state’s median wage; that change and the immediate tuition cut are expected to help 200,000 college students.
“The tuition cut is the equivalent of a quarter-billion dollar tax reduction for working families and students in our state,” said Braun. “I have been fighting for this policy, fighting to make sure we have no new taxes, and fighting to ensure that our budget makes the best use of taxpayer resources. I believe that we have done that. We can go back to our communities having made significant statewide investments without raising taxes. That’s a very good thing.”
The budget, Senate Bill 6052, was approved in time to take effect July 1, avoiding a state government shutdown.