Last week the Seattle Times pointed out that it is deliberate state policies to cut college funding and hike tuition that have in recent years begun to really take a bit out of middle class families. Education reporter Katherine Long describes a new report from the University of Pennsylvania that says Washington’s elected leaders have been neglecting middle class access to higher education for deserving students.
From Times the story:
“Washington’s leaders have show political indifference to higher education, allowing tuition to spiral out of control and failing to put enough money into financial aid to help ease the cost….”
“That blunt assessment from researchers at the University of Pennsylvania…criticized the state’s political leaders for abdicating their role in higher education and creating a leadership vacuum.”
These are tough words. And in this case “state political leaders” can only mean Democrats.
Democrats have held the reins of power in Olympia for decades, holding the governor’s office since 1985 and leadership in at least one legislative body in all two of the 30 years. Cuts in state support of higher education and sharp increases in college tuition could not have happened without their votes and support.
The dirty truth is that it has been a planned effort to keep their favorite parts of the budget growing, particularly spending that benefits their labor allies, that has Democrats writing budgets that reduced state aid to colleges and universities. At the same time, Governor Gregoire and budget writers in the legislature gave University regents increased authority to raise tuition, knowing full well that is exactly what the regents would do. In a note of dark humor, one bill to raise tuition was title the “Higher Education Opportunity Act.”
Sure enough, tuition at public colleges and universities soared. In just eight years, tuition at the University of Washington rose 134%. Tuition at WSU increased 104%. In contrast, inflation over the same period was just 24%.
In an earlier report Long documented how increases in college tuition were hurting middle-class families, citing examples of students who were finding it hard to finance their education.
Democrats like to say they stand for middle-class families, but once in power their actions say something else. They want to get political credit for caring about education, but they don’t want to be held accountable for how their budget decisions hurt real people.