OLYMPIA — An effort to put firm limits on future tuition hikes at state colleges and universities was scuttled Thursday as a key Senate committee replaced the idea with a task force that could make recommendations to the governor.
Sen. Mike Baumgartner, R-Spokane, proposed Senate Bill 6043, which would have required two- and four-year state colleges to have tuition no higher than 10 percent of the current average annual wage, and removed tuition setting authority from the schools.
Members of the Senate Higher Education Committee said, however, that without a guarantee of more money from the state, the quality of education at the schools could suffer. “These are laudable goals, but it doesn't help students if they have lesser access and lesser quality,” Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle, said.
An amendment by Sen. Rodney Tom, D-Medina, rewrote the bill to set up an eight-member task force to study tuition increases and make its recommendations by Dec. 1. The title of the bill was changed to remove any reference to “establishing caps” before it was sent to the Ways and Means Committee on a 5-0 vote.