The Washington State Legislature passed a budget for higher education in the coming biennium that was a compromise between versions passed by the state House and the Senate.
Among the provisions:
- Creation of the Education Legacy Trust Fund with revenue supplied by the restored estate tax;
- Increased enrollments of 360 students in Seattle, 325 at UW Tacoma and 275 at UW Bothell, including funds for lower division enrollments in 2007;
- The ability to increase resident undergraduate tuition up to 7 percent each year;
- Appropriations for the Tacoma Autism Center, a Korean studies endowment, the Burke Museum, Labor Center research and the Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences.
The budget also contained a “non-instruction” cut of $2,559,000 and a tuition increase offset of $4,436,000.
More details of the budget will come in the May 5 issue of University Week. Reacting to the favorable numbers, UW President Mark A. Emmert issued the following statement:
“This has been a productive session for higher education and the University of Washington, and I want to express our thanks to the members of the Legislature and the governor for addressing a number of critical needs of higher education in our state. This higher education operating budget is a good step in the right direction. The improvements in per student funding, expanded access, and financial aid will serve the state’s citizens well.
“The establishment of the Education Legacy Trust Fund, dedicated to the education needs of our state’s citizens, is a landmark development, one which I believe future generations will look back upon as being a significant event in the funding of education in our state. I look forward to continuing to work with the governor and the legislature on critical research and capital budget priorities for the university. However, for the first time in several years, we can look to a future where we should not lose ground on the competition.
“By adding almost 8,000 new enrollment spaces, the Legislature sent a clear message that creating opportunities for our young people to earn a bachelor’s degree is an important investment for our state to make in its future. Also, evolving our two upper division campuses at Tacoma and Bothell into four-year institutions (as called for in E2SHB 1794) will make it possible for more students to earn a bachelor’s degree from the UW, increasing significantly the role these two campuses will play in meeting future higher education needs in our state.
“Aside from the budget that came out of Olympia, a number of key pieces of legislation were passed and signed into law that recognized the importance of the university to the economic health of our region. These include the Life Sciences Discovery Fund, Ethical Transfer of Technology, and the establishment of the Washington Academy of Sciences.
“The legislators and the governor, their staffs, and everyone who worked so hard over the past months to bring about these positive outcomes should be commended for a job well done in tough times. They deserve our thanks.”