On Monday, June 18 the Government Relations office attended a meeting of higher education stakeholders, chaired by House Higher Education Representative Larry Seaquist on the UW Tacoma campus in downtown Tacoma, WA. Other elected officials in attendance included, Representative Susan Fagan, Representative Hans Zeiger and Senator David Frockt.
Stakeholders spanning the spectrum of the higher education community were in attendance, including, representatives of the four year public baccalaureate institutions, stakeholders from the community college and independent private college sector and students.
Among the topics up for discussion was how to continue to press the legislature and public to keep higher education a top priority, specifically in the 2013 legislative session. Higher education was spared from cuts during the 2012 legislative session and many feel it will be vulnerable as we move into a big budget session. With revenues remaining rather flat (see the most recent economic revenue forecast) and the Washington State Supreme Court’s decision earlier this year that the legislature has not been adequately funding k-12 education requiring significant investment in coming sessions, many are concerned there will be very little money left, if any, to fund higher education.
Stakeholders shared their ideas for keeping higher education a priority, including, continued media coverage of the community. Representative Seaquist also charged the group with thinking about top priorities for higher education and how their importance might be relayed to the general public and policy makers.
The next stakeholder meeting is slated to take place sometime in September after the August primary.