March 9, 2011

Mobilization needed to counter grim higher education budget picture laid out to legislators today

House Higher Education Committee this morning (and its Senate counterpart this afternoon) got a grim overview of the potential, devastating cuts proposed by the governor.
At the University of Washington alone, the 30 percent proposed cuts would eliminate 1,500 jobs, cut access for in-state students, reduce safety programs, reduce the number of degrees awarded and more.
Mike Reilly of the Council of Presidents said the cuts overall would worsen Washington’s ranking of 47th worst in the nation for spending on higher education students.
Washington has the best graduation rate in the nation, and those with bachelor’s degrees have lower unemployment, he said. Not spending the money on higher education will reduce the number of degree earners and society will end up paying for more social services and prison, Reilly said.
Washington State University President said the state’s economic recovery will lag if lawmakers “continue to disinvest” in higher education.
And one student speaker said the potential cuts “weaken the promise to Washingtonians” and “suck away the life” of campuses.
The committee was told that cuts on other campuses would include:
  • Washington State University – cuts in university maintenance, safety and libraries, a loss of 750 jobs and loss of state and federal grants. 
  • Central Washington University – cuts to maintenance and technology, increased student debt. 
  • Eastern Washington University – cuts to custodial and police, infrastructure deterioration, job cuts. 
  • The Evergreen State College – cuts to building support services, increases in maintenance backlog, cuts to student support services. 
  • Western Washington University – cutting three colleges, replacing 2,037 in-state students with 2,037 out-of-state undergraduates, reducing student support services, reducing facilities maintenance and safety, job losses. 
  • Community and Technical Colleges – reduced access for low-income students, GED and literacy programs, reduced facilities maintenance, furloughs, layoffs.

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