The House Higher Education Committee passed on a tuition-setting bill by Rep. Reuven Carlyle today, a first step in moving legislation that would change the funding model for higher education in the state.
Representatives from both parties voted 10-5 to pass Substitute House Bill 1795, which would give four-year colleges and universities full tuition setting authority for four years and set up a new middle class financial aid program.
“First and foremost, the legislature is faced with a crushing reality of rising tuition,” said Carlyle, a Seattle Democrat. “ It’s just a matter of can we do it with some real intelligence and fairness to students.”
The substitute bill, which Carlyle said he revised along with a working group of university students, faculty and administrators, would give public universities unlimited tuition-setting authority for four years but would require that any yearly tuition increases that go over a certain amount—9 percent for some universities and 11 percent for others—pay for financial aid for middle-income students.
Rep. Bob Hasagawa, D-Seattle, voted against the bill, saying he wanted the Legislature to commit to pay more for higher education and he was not convinced that the bill would keep college accessible to Washington students.
“I still have these frustrations,” he said. “We already know what works and we already know how to finance tuition; we just choose not to go that route.”
Rep. Larry Haler of Richland, the ranking Republican on the committee also said he would like to see the Legislature return to a funding model where tuition did not outweigh state support as the source of funding for universities, though he voted in support of the bill.
The bill will still have to pass the Rules Committee to make it to a floor vote in the House.