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Tag: Larry Seaquist


Lawmakers may keep universities from varying tuition

State lawmakers agreed to let universities and colleges charge higher tuition to engineers, business majors and others enrolled in higher-cost programs. But that was before the implications for the state’s pre-paid tuition program came to light.

After considering a few options last year, the Legislature ended up pausing the authority it had granted for differential tuition. Now it’s considering ending that authority altogether, as a measure sponsored by Rep. Larry Seaquist, D-Gig Harbor, would do.

Even among some of the lawmakers who originally championed differential tuition, there is now bipartisan support for ending it. When the Higher Education Committee

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Dems have no luck persuading Rep. Larry Seaquist to try for Kilmer’s seat

At least seven names are in the running as possible successors to Derek Kilmer as the 26th district state senator. One name that’s not on the list: Larry Seaquist, the Democrat representing the 26th in the House.

Seaquist, who just won a hotly contested, negative race to retain his seat, has said he won’t try for the Senate appointment and subsequent election. He wants to stay in the House, where he chairs the Higher Education committee.

Senate leaders have apparently tried to convince him to change his mind, to no avail. Here’s his e-mail today to Sens. Ed Murray

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Sales-tax forgiveness could save Tacoma Narrows toll payers 40-50 cents

Tolls on the Narrows bridge are almost certainly about to go up, driven by growing debt-service payments on the 2007 span. The only question is how much.

A measure in the Legislature might knock as much as 50 cents off of the necessary increase, according to the state’s toll director. Lawmakers are looking at forgiving sales taxes, and Craig Stone said Thursday:

that there could be about a 40 to 50 cent toll reduction for 2013 resulting from forgiving deferred sales taxes, but we’d want to have the traffic and revenue consultants run the numbers to get a more precise estimate

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Tacoma’s Martinac may be dropped from ferry contract

Tacoma-based J.M. Martinac Shipbuilding Corp. expects to be dropped from the group of companies building Washington a $147 million ferry.

The Pierce County delegation in the Legislature is asking Gov. Chris Gregoire to intercede.

Gregoire helped negotiate an agreement between shipyards that made Seattle-based Todd Pacific Shipyards the main contractor on building Washington’s new 144-car ferries. The deal promised subcontractor work for Whidbey Island’s Nichols Brothers Boat Builders and for Martinac, which would outfit the boat with electrical, heating and cooling systems. The project was funded this year and the ferry is supposed to start hauling cars in 2014.

But Portland-based

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State’s pre-paid tuition program is strong, report finds

A proposal in the state Legislature to change Washington’s Guaranteed Education Tuition program lost some momentum Wednesday when the State Actuary released report saying the pre-paid tuition program has a slim chance of running out of money.

The results of the report featured prominently in a House Ways and Means Committee hearing this morning on the Senate Bill 5749, a proposal that would reform GET in an effort to keep it from becoming a financial liability to the state, and they led some state representatives to argue that creating a new “GET 2” won’t be necessary.

“My conclusion is that, A, the GET program is in great shape and, B, that GET 2 is not a good idea,” said Rep. Larry Seaquist, chair of the House Higher Education Committee after hearing the results of the study.

Though he voted to pass the proposal out of his committee last week, Seaquist, D-Gig Harbor, said now that he had seen the report he planned to work with the prime sponsor of the bill, Sen. Lisa Brown, to make some minor changes to GET management, but leave most of the existing program as it is.

According to the report, the existing GET program, which allows people to buy credits at today’s prices that are guaranteed to cover future tuition at the state’s most expensive university, has a 0.7 percent chance of requiring a state bail-out over the next 50 years. Under a worst-case scenario, though, the program could cost the state $4.6 billion.

The changes to the program, proposed in Senate Bill 5749 would probably reduce the amount that GET units would appreciate over time. Rather than guaranteeing that 100 units would be worth a year of tuition at the most expensive state university, GET units would appreciate based on a weighted average of all state college and university tuition increases.

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Rep. Seaquist seeks meeting on Narrows bridge tolls

State Rep. Larry Seaquist wrote to state Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond asking her to come to Gig Harbor to answer “executive accountability questions” raised by news that new transponders aren’t being scanned on the Tacoma Narrows bridge.

Seaquist said he has also asked for more detail on costs and savings. The incompatibility of devices could lead the state to forego about $600,000 in toll revenue this year from cars that cameras miss, WSDOT says, but the money the state saved by going to the new transponders more than makes up for the loss.

Here’s Seaquist’s e-mail:

Secretary Hammond, Read more »


Ferry unions reach contract deal with governor

Gov. Chris Gregoire called it a “historical” level of sacrifice by ferry unions, who are giving up nearly $7 million in the form of 3 percent pay cuts and $13 million in other savings to the state over the next two years.

But there were few details about those other concessions at a press conference Gregoire held with ferry management and unions Friday. It’s all part of a deal that isn’t sealed until contracts are approved by the union rank-and-file, and Gregoire said she wanted those union members to hear the details before the public.

But she touted a total of $30 million in savings to the state ferry system, between the pay and benefit cuts that leaders of most ferry unions have agreed to and $10 million in cuts Gregoire says she is making to management and administrative overhead. (There are few details, but the cuts are in addition to previous efficiencies, and don’t include the reduction in ferry runs she says are necessary to solve a huge budget gap).

To some degree, both union concessions and management cuts are attempts to head off the changes that some lawmakers want to make in the ferry system.

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Amendment to higher ed bill could make science and math degrees cheaper

An amendment attached to a higher education bill that passed out of committee this morning paves the way for public universities to start charging different tuition rates for different majors.

The amendment, proposed by Rep. Hans Zeiger and added to House Bill 1666, would limit tuition increases for certain “public interest degrees” in science, technology, engineering and math.

“The STEM fields are the foundation of our state’s economy, and the people in them are a large share of our tax base,” Zeiger said, using an acronym to refer to the math and science degrees his amendment would address.

The amendment would only allow tuition to increase 5 percent per year in degrees related to agriculture, biology, physics, computer science, medicine and other fields.

Because a 5 percent increase is even smaller than the 7 percent per year tuition hike the legislature allowed before the budget shortfalls of the last few years, this would probably mean that the tuition burden would be much heavier for students who major in other fields, such as the social sciences.

Zeiger, an Edgewood Republican, originally introduced the public interest degrees idea in House Bill 1954. When the Higher Education Committee ran out of time to hold a hearing on the measure, he proposed it as an amendment to House Bill 1666, a bill that would implement the recommendations of the governor’s Higher Education Funding Task Force.

Zeiger said he was open to the idea of changing the amendment.

“The goal is to make this part of the discussion,” he said.

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