February 28, 2013

We are rapidly approaching the halfway point of the 2013 Legislative Session. The date for policy bills to make it out of their committees has passed, and fiscal committees are hard at work this week considering any bills related to the operating budget, capital budget, or transportation budget. The Senate and House will then spend the next week and a half on the floor considering final passage of bills. By the end of the day on March 13, Senate bills must pass the Senate and House bills must pass the House to continue through the process this session.

Higher education funding and working to keep higher education affordable and accessible for students is critical this year. A decade ago, roughly 70 percent of the cost of public higher education was funded by the state while 30 percent was covered by tuition. Fast-forward to 2013, and after years of cuts and lack of investment in our public baccalaureates those numbers have flipped. Students are now picking up 70 percent of the cost of their education, and the state is funding only 30 percent. Several proposals have come forward as possible ways to begin addressing the need for reinvestment in higher education, but it is uncertain if these proposals will get any traction. We are unlikely to see a budget proposal until after the revenue forecast, and hope to see the first budget released near the end of March.

Despite this troublesome pattern, The Federal College Scorecard is proof that Western has continued to be a national leader that offers quality education at an affordable price, with positive outcomes for its students and alumni. Read more about the scorecard.

Western President Bruce Shepard and Steve Swan, Vice President for University Relations visited Olympia for the second time this session last week and met with key legislators and budget leadership. On Monday, Regents and Trustees from the colleges and universities were in Olympia for a series of meetings with legislators. Western Trustee Dick Thompson was in attendance, and student Trustee Joe Meyer made the trip down from Bellingham with Steve Swan. The day concluded with a reception that was well-attended by many Representatives and Senators, and strong representation from Western faculty, AS Student Leadership, and Western administrators.

Last week, House Resolution 4620 was adopted by the House of Representatives honoring Western, the University of Washington and Gonzaga for the recent number one rankings released by the Peace Corps. Read the press release.

Page Updated 06.13.2013