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Turning of the tide?

I feel that because I've written in recent years about horrific budget news at the University of Washington, I should mention that the latest state budget adjustment, for yet another revenue shortfall, resulted in no further cuts to the university budget. Or as UW President Michael Young announced in an e-mail to the campus on Wednesday:

Those among you who watch what transpires in Olympia know that early this morning, the Legislature completed its work and adopted a supplemental budget for the second year of the current biennium. The very good news is that for the first time in three years, funding for higher education and the University of Washington has not been further reduced. For far too long, part of the equation of balancing the state budget in times of fiscal duress has been the erosion of state support for higher education. The hemorrhaging has stopped, thanks to a great many people, including key leadership on both sides of the aisle in the Legislature, the Governor, editorial voices from our state’s newspapers — led prominently by The Seattle Times and its Greater good Campaign — and thousands of alumni, friends, students, faculty, staff, and citizens.

I do have to give credit to the Seattle Times for keeping up the drumbeat on their editorial page against further cuts to higher education, even as they were idiotically railing at the Democrats in the legislature for trying to prevent cuts anywhere by borrowing against the future. There were shenanigans around this supplemental budget involving a Republican "coup" in the Senate (with three Dems crossing the aisle) that caused a protracted stalemate. The Seattle Times cheered the Republicans on, and I'm not sure how all that worked out in the compromises.

In any event, I hope the economy is recovering enough that revenue will start to rise again. I will also be curious to see how the discussion about funding of higher education proceeds from here. State support for the UW went from 60% to 30% just in the past three years, and 60% was already down from twenty years ago. Are taxpayers ready to start investing in higher education again? The Seattle Times, at least, has started to make the argument that the UW is a major driver of the state economy.


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