College affordability one step closer for Washington Families
The Senate Majority’s College Affordability Program, Senate Bill 5954 passed with bipartisan support but surprising opposition from half of Senate Democrats. The bill, sponsored by Deputy Majority Leader Sen. John Braun, R-Centralia, and chair of the Senate Higher Education Committee, Sen. Barbara Bailey, R-Oak Harbor would reduce tuition by as much as 30 percent at state-run research institutions and cap tuition to a percentage of the state’s average income.
“I have been making this case since we introduced this bill, college access and affordability should be a priority for our state again,” Braun said. “We’ve had years of underinvestment in higher education and the results are bad for our economy. Our state faces significant challenges, but this is a long-term policy solution that middle-class families in our state deserve.”
Higher Education and the rising cost of tuition have been a focal points since the inception of the Senate Majority Coalition. The Coalition lead the charge on freezing college tuition for two consecutive years, something that had not been done in nearly three decades. Opposition democrats would not support reducing tuition without a dedicated funding source similar to the attempted $170 million tax hike they proposed during the committee process. The Majority Coalition made it clear that higher education should be a budget priority and that this policy can be implemented without new taxes.
“Making higher education affordable for all our state’s students is a win for everyone,” Bailey said. “I’ve been working to ensure that our students have access to an affordable and quality post-secondary education. The tuition freeze was great but we need a real paradigm shift in what college affordability means for students. By passing this bill we are sending a message that students are a top priority by making college affordable in our state.”