When the Senate Democrats released their proposed 2012 budget, The Daily staff breathed a sigh of relief. For the first time in a while, there was a proposal that made no new funding cuts to education.
But the celebration was short-lived. All it took was three Democrats to flip the switch.
On Friday of that same week, Senate Republicans put forth their own bill with the support of a few Democrats, and in one afternoon, forced through a 262-page plan that proposed cutting $30 million from higher education — $12 million from the UW — and $44 million from K-12 education. The difference? A one-day delay in making a payment to the state’s rainy-day fund in the Democrats’ version, and a refusal to make that delay in the Republicans’ version.
The Daily staff is disappointed and frustrated at the incredibly low value the new Senate budget places on education — both for K-12 and higher education.
We’ve watched and reported over the years as the state has defunded our institutions. In 2006, undergraduate resident tuition for the year was $5,880. This year, it was $10,571.
Under the guise of being “fiscally responsible,” the new budget further slashes funding from what should be the state’s greatest investment. The fact that the state can’t fulfill its responsibility to support K-12 is insulting to the people who tried to put forth a balanced budget and insulting to the educational institutions — including our own — that have bent over backward to deal with the financial blows the state has dealt them over the years.
It’s sad that the UW is at the point where we felt grateful for the Senate Democrats’ budget that made no new cuts, and that our financial support from the state is at such a low point. However, for many in our generation who grew up in the Washington state public-education system, we’re used to being told we have to make do with less and less, with support from the state continuing to diminish. In planning for this editorial, our staff spent a considerable amount of time swapping stories about using outdated textbooks, getting extra credit for bringing more supplies to class, and working in the sorry disrepair of their schools’ facilities. Should we really be settling for this?
Thanks to legislation passed last year granting the Board of Regents full tuition-setting authority, the board has the ability to raise tuition as much as it sees fit to close any budget gaps the state chooses to leave behind. If the proposed budget is passed as is, the UW will be left with a $12 million hole to fill. Just last year, the state left a $209 million hole, which resulted in a 20 percent tuition increase.
It’s time members of the Legislature stop playing political games and start putting a higher priority on the state’s educational systems by passing a budget that demonstrates they value them.
This is the opinion of The Daily’s Editorial Board: Editor-in-Chief Alison Atwell, News Editor Sarah Schweppe, Opinion Editor Katie Burke, Features Editor Hayat Norimine, Arts & Leisure Editor Robert Frankel, Sports Editor Josh Liebeskind, Photo Editor Lucas Anderson, and Copy Chief Kristen Steenbeeke.
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