Braun supports Majority Coalition Caucus plan to reduce tuition by 3 percent

10-3-50 plan will also provide additional investments in high-demand STEM degrees

 Sen. John Braun is co-sponsoring a plan to fund higher education unveiled yesterday by the Senate Majority Coalition Caucus. It’s aimed at reducing tuition for students enrolled in college, increasing spending on public universities and community colleges, and creating performance reviews that would make even more revenue available to post-secondary schools.

“Under previous majorities in the Senate, tuition rates at our state-run colleges have skyrocketed due to decreased state funding,” said Braun, R-Centralia. “If our children want to go to college, financing should not be the determining factor. We must start investing more money into post-secondary education and avoid expanding other government programs that punish students by draining revenue from the state’s college system.”

The “Ten-Three-Fifty” plan set forth in Senate Bill 5883 would:

Sen. Braun discussing education with Sen. Bruce Dammier, R-25th.

Sen. Braun discussing education with Sen. Bruce Dammier, R-25th.

  • Increase state funding to public universities and community colleges by 10 percent (more than $300 million to a level of   $3 billion for the 2013-2015 biennium);
  • Immediately lower in-state tuition by 3 percent;
  • Introduce new metrics for performance-based funding, comprising of an allocation of $50 million. Metrics will    include the number of undergraduate high-demand STEM degrees, the average time it takes to complete an undergraduate degree, freshman retention, low-income population, and space utilization; and
  • Expand the state need grant by 7 percent, which serves an additional 4,600 students.

Braun said these simple reforms also mean the elimination of the Guaranteed Education Tuition (GET) program’s unfunded liability of $631 million. By lowering tuition by 3 percent, the program will remain solvent. Recent estimates show these reforms will produce a surplus of $421 million.

Braun, chairman of the Senate Trade and Economic Development Committee, sees the proposal’s benefits as extending more beyond college campuses.

“The more we delay our obligation to higher education, the further behind we get in terms of global competition for high-paying jobs and creating a workforce for the 21st century,” Braun said. “This is about doing what is right for our state’s middle-class families in a way that will be good for Washington employers as well. Under our leadership, we are changing business as usual in Olympia.”