Republicans won the college tuition battle. Yesterday evening, the state Legislature passed a balanced, no new taxes budget that—among other GOP victories—included the College Affordability Program which will cut tuition at the University of Washington and Washington State University by 15 percent over two years. Other state universities will see a 20 percent tuition cut over the same time frame. And, community college tuition will decrease by five percent starting July 2016.
Republican state Senator Michael Baumgartner called the reductions a “tax cut for working-class families and college students.” Indeed, the Republican plan lifts the heavy burden Democrats have places on middle class families for decades.
As Shift reported, for more than a decade, Democrats have used college tuition hikes, essentially a tax on the middle class, as a cash cow to help transfer taxpayer money to their special interest allies and key campaign donors. Under Democrat leadership in the Legislature, students pursuing higher education have faced an exponential growth in tuition rates— budget after budget has leeched off students, and their families, in order to pay for Democrats’ bigger-government agenda.
Democrats have not appeared concerned with reversing the mess they created during the current legislative cycle. They initially rejected Republicans’ efforts to lighten the college tuition burden, choosing only to trumpet support for higher education when it suits their interests. In an example of political posturing at its worst, Democrats appeared more than willing to withhold tuition cuts if it meant ensuring Republicans don’t get something they care about.
Republicans fought back. The battle made it clear where both Republicans and Democrats true priorities lie. While Republicans pushed to prioritize K-12 and higher education, Democrats wanted to redirect funding from higher education to a variety of social services. Fortunately for working families, Republicans won.