On freezing tuition, Democrats and Republicans swap positions in Olympia
For four years, it has been Republicans who have been holding the line on tuition in Olympia — first by freezing it, and then by pushing through a tuition cut.
Now, it’s Democrats who want to halt tuition increases at the state’s colleges and universities, while Republicans are proposing modest increases of about 2 percent a year.
GOP leaders — who control the state Senate with the aid of one conservative Democrat — say Washington state’s tuition policy has finally stabilized after years of double-digit tuition hikes under Democrats’ watch. The budget Republicans have proposed for the next two years focuses on adding more slots for students, while continuing a plan lawmakers approved in 2015 to tie tuition increases to growth in the state’s median wage.
Democrats, meanwhile, are less focused on boosting enrollment, saying they instead want to keep tuition costs down for the next two years. The budget plan House Democrats released this week would spend $56.3 million over two years to freeze undergraduate resident tuition, along with $72.7 million to extend state financial aid to 6,000 additional students.