Higher Education Biggest Loser in House Budget Plan

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March 31, 2009
News Release
Sandra Schroeder, 206-715-1824 or sschroeder@aftwa.org
Sylvia Watson, 206-261-3603 or swatson@aftwa.org
Higher Education Biggest Loser in House Budget Plan
Shortchanges Students, the Unemployed, and State’s Economic Future
“The House’s proposed budget today dealt a devastating blow to higher education in our state, and thousands of students will not be able to access higher education,” said Sandra Schroeder, union President of the American Federation of Teachers in Washington State.
Rep. Kathy Haigh, one of the budget writers, said at today’s press conference, “This budget gives the biggest hit to the higher education system.”
The House budget reduces higher education funding by $683 million compared to the Senate version of $513 million in reductions.
In addition, tuitions could increase seven percent in community and technical colleges and ten percent in four-year institutions to offset some of the budget reductions.
“The governor and legislators from both parties do not have the political will to restructure our archaic tax system and stabilize it for the future, but they are willing to increase the tax called ‘tuition’ on students and workers who need retraining. And students will get less for more,” Schroeder said.
Higher education is an economic stimulus, particularly at a time when our unemployment rate is the highest it has ever been, and thousands more residents who have lost their jobs are seeking job training and higher education in order to get back into the workforce.
According to Schroeder, quality will erode as students need to stay in school longer to get the classes they need, be less likely to earn a degree in their chosen field because academic support services are eroded, and will have larger class sizes as a result of as many as 3,000 college faculty losing their jobs.
“Revenue reform that prepares for the future would have been the courageous stand to take. Both parties share the shame of this budget. History proves we will never be able to turn back the clock and restore the cuts even when the economy improves,” she said.
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AFT Washington, AFL-CIO, represents academic employees in two- and four-year higher education institutions, K-12 classified school employees, Head Start teachers, and early childhood education members.