Legislature moves governor’s funding bills forward

Higher education funding plans that emerged from the governor’s business task force early this year are still moving forward in the state legislature. House Ways & Means approved HB 1666 on Thursday. SB 5717 is waiting for action in Senate Ways & Means.

Because both are key components of the budget, they are exempt from all deadlines. The next hurdle for all bills is approval by the full House (for House bills) and by the full Senate (for Senate bills).

The task force recommended setting a baseline of state support and then letting institutions raise tuition if state support dropped below the baseline or “floor.” If state funding goes down, tuition goes up. It’s a concept CWU introduced last summer.

The task force also said that total funding–tuition plus state support–couldn’t rise above 60 percent of the higher education funding for similar universities in competing, or “global challenge” states (GCS). The governor’s proposal is one of the more complicated funding plans out there this year. Therefore I have created a friendly table that allows you to compare these bills.

SB 5717 HB 1666
Increase degree production Increase the number of bachelor’s degrees by 27% (6,000);

At least 2000 of the additional degrees must be in STEM fields,

At least 19 percent of all baccalaureate degrees awarded must be to low-income or first generation

Tuition Sets state funding baseline at FY 2011.

Beginning in 2013-14, baccalaureates may set resident

undergraduate tuition:

If state funding falls below baseline, resident undergraduate tuition can be increased to 60 percent of comparable schools, or the institution may reduce enrollments, or both;

If state funding is at least equal to the 2011 level, resident undergraduate tuition can increase tuition to 60 percent of peers but must maintain or increase enrollments;

If state funding plus tuition is above 60th percentile of peers, tuition must be decreased to that level.

Sets state funding baseline at FY 2008.

Same implementation.

Tuition may increase no more than 5% over the previous academic year.

Financial aid (Endowment eliminated in the substitute bill.) Creates an endowment for low- and middle-income students who wish to earn a baccalaureate degree, and a tax credit for businesses that contribute.
Performance measures Requires a plan to meet the degree targets, and report on 1) technology use in instruction; 2) administrative efficiencies; 3) eliminating under-used programs; 4) creating three-year degree programs; (5) increasing tuition for lingering students; 6) recognizing prior learning experiences; and 7) recognizing transfer credits.

Identifies 12 performances areas–from remediation to time to degree and more–on which annual reports are required.

The HECB designs a program of rewards based on each institution’s degree production progress, measured by 1) total number of degrees completed; 2) number of degrees in specified fields; 3) retention increases for students receiving need-based financial assistance; and 4) number of excess credits taken beyond those needed to graduate.


Identifies 13 performance reporting categories.


Academics Community college students who earn a transfer degree and are admitted to a baccalaureate must be given junior standing and be deemed to have met gen-ed requirements.

Transfer students with 90 quarter hours and have completed gen-ed requirements at another public baccalaureate are admitted to another four-year institution with junior standing and must be deemed to have met gen-ed requirements.

Each institution must develop at least one degree in arts and sciences that can be completed within 90 upper-division quarter hours by any student who enters with junior status.

Community and technical colleges will work jointly with the four-year institutions to develop equivalent course lists for one year’s worth of gen-ed credit.

Students who complete one year of gen-ed credits may receive a one-year academic completion certificate. Community and technical colleges must identify and publish a list of college-level courses that are recognized by all four-year institutions, a list of courses that satisfy the one-year completion certificate requirements, and courses for a transferrable associate degree.

All elements same as the Senate bill plus…

Creates a definition of STEM degrees as “public interest degrees” in programs for which students may enroll at reduced tuition rates.


About Linda Schactler

Linda is the former Director of Communications for the Washington State Senate, and former deputy director of the Washington State Higher Education Coordinating Board. From 2000 through 2010 Linda was the proprietor of Schactler Communications, an Olympia-based public affairs business. She holds a master of arts in English literature from Washington University in St. Louis. Linda can be reached at her Ellensburg office schactler@cwu.edu, 509-963-1384, or on her cell phone, 509-607-4103.
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