Two days after Washington’s colleges and universities were told to prepare for $600 million in cuts, the board that oversees higher education in the state urged the Legislature to instead adopt a “modest” $512 million increase.
The investment is warranted because higher education is “one of the most powerful tools at the state’s disposal to help us grow our way out of the current economic downturn,” states a press release from the state’s Higher Education Coordinating Board, which met Friday.
Washington’s chief revenue forecaster on Wednesday predicted that state revenues will be $5.1 billion less than expected over the next 2 1/2 years. In response, many state agencies have been told to prepare for deep cuts, colleges and universities among them.
A $600 million cut spread over two years amounts to about 20 percent of the institutions’ budgets. Instead, the board is recommending a 14 percent increase for that same 2009-2011 budget.
The board also said it would oppose any attempt to raise tuitions more than 7 percent a year, the current limit under state law.