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November 5, 2013 at 7:09 AM
UPDATE, 8:25 p.m.: Incumbent Port Commissioner John Creighton was holding a lead over Auburn Mayor Pete Lewis in Tuesday’s initial election results, and three other incumbents were also leading their challengers.
In initial returns, Creighton was leading 69 percent to 31 percent.
Voters were supporting two appointed commissioners, Courtney Gregoire and Stephanie Bowman. Gregoire was beating Socialist opponent John Naubert 83 percent to 17 percent, and Bowman was leading over former travel agent Michael Wolfe, 70 percent to 29 percent.
And commission president Tom Albro was holding a lead over his challenger, Eastside lawyer Richard Pope, with 58 percent of the vote to Pope’s 42 percent.
ORIGINAL POST: Four incumbents on the Port of Seattle Commission face re-election challenges today.
Commissioner John Creighton is up against Auburn Mayor Pete Lewis.
Courtney Gregoire and Stephanie Bowman, who were appointed to open seats this year, face John Naubert and Michael Wolfe, respectively.
Commission President Tom Albro is challenged by lawyer Richard Pope.
The four commissioners, along with Commissioner Bill Bryant, make up a commission eager to reinvent itself and gain clout after losing a high-profile battle against a proposed Sodo arena. The commissioners spent much of their campaigns arguing that the Port deserves more attention for its role in the local economy.
November 5, 2013 at 7:04 AM
Dunn, Dembowski, Upthegrove leading in King County Council races; Constantine headed for second term
UPDATE: 10:01 p.m.
Shari Song said she was not yet ready to concede on Tuesday night to Reagan Dunn in the race for King County Council District 9. Dunn was leading Song 58 percent to 42 percent in initial returns.
Dunn said he thought “voters were happy with the job I’m doing and saw through some of the distortions in the campaign.” Song had criticized Dunn’s work ethic and attendance record; he had missed a lot of votes because he sometimes leaves meetings early.
Song called her campaign a “tremendous achievement” because of the amount of money she raised and the number of volunteers she attracted. Song raised more than $250,000 to challenge Dunn — the most a challenger for a King County seat has ever raised, Dunn said.
Dunn, who was seeking a third term on the council representing District 9, was considered the council’s most vulnerable incumbent this year.
UPDATE, 8:15 p.m.
Incumbent Metropolitan King County Council member Reagan Dunn was holding a strong lead Tuesday night over his opponent, Bellevue realtor Shari Song, 58 percent to 42 percent.
County Executive Dow Constantine was easily holding onto his position over opponent Alan Lobdell, 78 percent to 22 percent.
In District 1 in North King County, attorney Rod Dembowski was beating public-health researcher Naomi Wilson, 74 percent to 25 percent. Dembowski was appointed earlier this year to an open seat on the council.
In District 5, state Rep. Dave Upthegrove held a lead over Andy Massagli for the seat being vacated by retiring council member Julia Patterson. Upthegrove had 69 percent to Massagli’s 31 percent.
Five seats on the Metropolitan King County Council are up for grabs today, with voters deciding whether to keep four incumbents as well as who will replace outgoing Councilmember Julia Patterson.
Reagan Dunn is the council’s most vulnerable incumbent, facing Bellevue real-estate agent Shari Song. Dunn is seeking a third term representing District 9, in rural southeast King County. He is a moderate and has voted for half the tax proposals that have come before him as a council member. He touts among his accomplishments fighting to reopen a Maple Valley sheriff’s office precinct that was closed during budget cuts. Song is a first-time political candidate, and local Democratic groups saw an opportunity to get another Democrat on the council.
In District 1 in north King County, attorney Rod Dembowski faces public-health researcher Naomi Wilson. Dembowski was appointed earlier this year to an open seat on the council.
In District 5, state Rep. Dave Upthegrove faces Andy Massagli, a former airline pilot who now works in advertising. The seat is being vacated by retiring council member Julia Patterson. District 5 includes cities and unincorporated areas in southwest King County.
Two other council candidates are unopposed on the ballot: Pete von Reichbauer and Kathy Lambert.
June 28, 2013 at 12:08 PM
Higher education leaders said Friday they were pleased with the proposed legislative budget that bumps higher education funding by 12 percent and freezes tuition for at least a year for in-state undergraduate students.
The proposed budget adds $119 million in funding over two years, plus an extra $18 million to grow computer science and engineering programs at the University of Washington, Washington State University and Western Washington University.
It’s “a significant step forward,” said University of Washington President Michael Young in a statement. He said the budget agreement “will allow the UW to hold resident undergraduate tuition rates at their current levels without compromising the extraordinary quality of students’ educations.”
“The Washington State Legislature has turned an important corner toward re-investing in higher education,” said WSU President Elson Floyd, in a statement. “By far, the most encouraging part is the recognition that we cannot continue to fund higher education on the backs of our students.”
The state’s 34 community and technical colleges also saw a $10 million bump for performance funding, to reward schools that are doing a good job of graduating students.
“I think we did pretty well — we’re reasonably happy with everything,” said Marty Brown, executive director of the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges.
Both two- and four-year schools will be prohibited from raising tuition for the 2013-14 school year. They have the option of raising tuition for 2014-15, but if they do so, they’ll be required to set aside more money for financial aid.
At the UW, the $8.9 million in new money for engineering and computer science will help grow programs that are bursting at the seams. Many applicants are turned away from those programs every year because they are full.
Margaret Shepherd, director of state relations for the UW and a ubiquitous presence in Olympia during the legislative session, said the tide toward more higher education funding seemed to turn as legislators became more aware of how budget cuts over the economic downturn have caused tuition rates to rise.
The state has cut university funding by about 50 percent since 2009, and Washington now ranks near the bottom among all states in per-student funding. In response to the cuts, Washington colleges and universities raised tuition by double-digit amounts for four straight years.
June 27, 2013 at 1:17 PM
Sen. Barbara Bailey said Thursday morning that the Legislature is very close to agreeing to the details of a higher-education budget that would increase funding by 10 percent and freeze tuition for the next two years.
Bailey made her comments around the same time that other legislative leaders announced a tentative deal on the overall $33.6 billion two-year state budget.
The Oak Harbor Republican, who heads the Senate Higher Education Committee, said she did not think that the higher-education deal would take away tuition-setting authority for the institutions, meaning that their governing boards could still vote to raise tuition. But, she said, “we are hopeful we’ll have agreements on raising tuition” from the institutions.
Bailey would not put a dollar figure on the amount of higher-education funding, although she did say it was somewhere above 10 percent more than ”maintenance level,” or the level the universities say they need to receive just to maintain services as-is. The maintenance level for 2013-15 is $1.04 billion, suggesting that the deal would allocate at least $104 million more for higher education.
Before the session began, the state’s six four-year institutions requested $225 million in new money, a 20 percent increase, and said they would freeze tuition if they received an increase of that size.
“This would be the first time in 27 years we’ve not had a tuition increase,” Bailey said. “That is hugely important for middle-class families in particular. From all the data we’ve been gathering, by the time you put tuition, student housing, fees and books and everything together, the average family can’t afford to send their child to college in this state without some kind of help financially, or going into debt.”
Bailey said the deal includes about $18 million to grow programs in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). She said the additional money would stabilize the Guaranteed Education Tuition (GET) program, which bases its payouts on tuition rates and is currently underfunded.
She also said that a controversial proposal to raise about $50 million by adding a 20 percent surcharge to international student tuition is “still being discussed,” although she noted that “there’s not been a warm welcome to that.”
Bailey said she fully expects a deal by Friday, and “we may have something by the end of the day today.” But she said things are in flux right now.
“Evidently, the jello has not stuck yet to the wall,” she said.
March 18, 2013 at 4:46 PM
Earlier this year, the presidents of Washington’s four-year colleges promised to freeze in-state undergraduate tuition if the Legislature would allocate an additional $225 million to fund higher education.
But that scenario is looking less likely every day. If there are no increases — but also no cuts — tuition is likely to go up by about 5 to 7 percent in the next school year. Washington State University probably would raise tuition a little less than that, by about 2 to 3 percent.
The picture should become more clear Wednesday, when the state releases its revenue forecast.
Last week, the state learned that its budget shortfall had grown by $300 million, primarily because it miscalculated how much money it would save from moving certain Medicaid patients to managed care. The total budget shortfall is now about $1.3 billion.
“Conversations have gotten increasingly pessimistic,” said Margaret Shepherd, director of state relations for the University of Washington. “Legislators are telling us no new cuts would be a victory.”
State Rep. Larry Seaquist, D-Gig Harbor, says he’s still hoping to add an extra $300 million for all higher education needs, including money for faculty salary increases and help for community and technical colleges. But he noted that a House Republican proposal unveiled earlier added no new money to higher education, and “I have not seen signs that the House Democrats are planning to add money.”
“I’m now quite alarmed,” he said.
Shepherd said she expects most of the four-year universities will raise tuition by more than inflation, but less than double-digit increases — “somewhere between 5 to 7 percent to meet basic needs.”
WSU would raise its tuition less because last year President Elson Floyd pledged to keep tuition increases at the rate of inflation if higher education funding was not cut, said Chris Mulick, director of governmental relations at WSU. A cost-of-living tuition increase would be about 2 to 3 percent, he said.
It’s also unclear how the budget would affect community college tuition. Marty Brown, executive director of the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges, said that if there’s no new money from the state and no new tuition dollars, “it’s a reduction” because of inflation.
“We’re just starting the conversation as to what happens if there’s no cuts and no adds,” he said.
February 21, 2013 at 6:33 PM
University of Washington President Michael Young spent a day in Olympia earlier this week, and came away with concerns about how some policy decisions are being made without regard to funding issues, he told The Seattle Times editorial board Thursday.
In an hour-long meeting with editorial writers, Young said that legislators are making broad policy decisions about higher education — such as tuition freezes – without also taking into consideration the need to increase funding. That’s largely a matter of timing – the Legislature won’t be able to write a budget until after it receives the latest revenue forecast, in March.
“The conversation in Olympia has been going in the wrong direction for the last few weeks,” he said. Among his concerns:
- A tuition freeze. Young said he worries that legislators are discussing bills that would freeze tuition next year without also recognizing that a freeze would require an increase in funding to the state’s universities. The six presidents of the state’s four-year schools have said they would freeze tuition if the Legislature would increase higher education funding by $225 million over the 2013-15 biennium – an increase of about 20 percent over the last biennium. ”Policy discussions need to be attached to budget discussions, and at the moment they’re not,” he said.
- Differential tuition. UW officials say they’ve lost on this one – that is, they expect a bill to pass that would take away the university’s ability to charge higher tuition rates for some degrees. (The full House has already passed a bill, HB 1043, to do just that, and on Thursday a similar bill, SB 5835, cleared a Senate committee.) The problem: Charging a higher tuition would reset the payout for the state’s prepaid tuition plan to a higher rate, causing financial woes for the Guaranteed Education Tuition (GET) plan. Young is no fan of GET — he calls it “a really quite wonderful subsidy for the upper middle class,” and notes that many states have abandoned similar programs because it’s so hard to price advanced tuition credits appropriately.
- The impact of Initiative 1185 on tuition increases. State Sen. Pam Roach and Initiative supporter Tim Eyman both say they believe the initiative takes tuition-setting authority away from the governing boards of state universities. But Young, who is a lawyer, called it “a silly argument” and said he believes the Attorney General’s office has made it clear that the Legislature can delegate tuition-setting authority to the university’s governing boards.
Young also discussed the impact of federal sequestration, which could go into effect next week and would be a big problem for the UW because it gets more federal funding than any other public research university in the country. Most of that money comes from the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation; Young said the UW could lose $85 million under sequestration, which might cause some long-running research programs to close when their funding runs out, leading to job losses.
February 8, 2013 at 4:00 PM
This post has been updated to include new information
A two-year-old bit of legislation allowing state universities to charge variable tuition rates for different majors may be headed for a quick demise.
Late Thursday, the House Higher Education Committee voted unanimously to end the so-called “differential tuition.” The bill, House Bill 1043, now goes for a vote before the full House on Monday, said state Rep. Larry Seaquist, D-Gig Harbor, who heads the higher ed committee.
State four-year schools gained the authority to charge differential tuition in 2011 so they could support and grow high-demand programs, like computer science, engineering and business. Those programs often cost more to run because they require small-group mentoring by faculty, and because professors in those programs often command higher salaries — they’re in big demand in the marketplace.
The only problem: If the University of Washington charged more for a computer science degree, the state’s prepaid college tuition program’s payout would have to be raised to match that program’s tuition. That’s because the Guaranteed Education Tuition program is pegged to the highest undergraduate, in-state tuition among public colleges.
GET is already underfunded by about $600 million. The new payout would have greatly exacerbated the problem.
“We need, for GET, to shut that (differential tuition) program down,” said Seaquist, who said his bill has bipartisan support.
The differential tuition legislation was suspended last year, so none of Washington’s six four-year colleges has ever charged extra for certain degrees. The only school that said it was interested in doing so was the UW.
February 1, 2013 at 1:22 PM
The latest attempt to address the escalating cost of higher education comes from Rep. Gerry Pollet, D-Seattle, who’s introduced a bill that would limit state college tuition increases to the rate of inflation through 2018.
HB 1624 aims to move Washington toward a 50-50 split between students and the state, with students paying half the cost of their education and the state paying the rest.
Currently, at the University of Washington, students pay about 70 percent of the cost of their education — this year, that’s tuition and fees of $12,400. The state pays for the rest, through appropriations to the university.
Pollet said his bill has support from both parties — from fellow Democrat Larry Seaquist, D-Gig Harbor, as well as Republicans Larry Haler of Richland and Hans Zeiger of Puyallup. Seaquist and Pollet are chair and co-chair of the House Higher Education Committee.
Pollet’s goal is to keep tuition at UW and Washington State University to about 10 percent of median household income, which is where it was five years ago. Currently, it’s grown to 20 percent of median household income, he said.
Pollet said keeping tuition in line with inflation would take an additional $198 million over the next biennium for both four-year schools and community colleges. In a separate bill Pollet has filed, HB 1494, he is proposing a doubling of the estate tax to help raise about $100 million per biennium for higher education.
Slowing tuition growth would have the added benefit of stabilizing the Guaranteed Tuition Education program, which is underfunded, Pollet said.
January 18, 2013 at 3:12 PM
State Sen. Ed Murray chastised Sen. Rodney Tom Friday in a strongly-worded letter that questions Tom’s leadership as chair of a committee that wants to shut down the state’s prepaid college tuition program.
Tom, who described the Guaranteed Education Tuition program as a “Ponzi scheme” during a phone interview Friday, said it would be “fiscally irresponsible” for the state to continue to take GET investments. He defended the way he polled members for a final vote, which occurred via email on Dec. 31, and said the procedure was given the OK by the Senate’s attorney.
Murray wrote that “while it may technically be within your legal authority as the Chair of the Advisory Committee to email committee members on the final day of the calendar year and ask for their input on a proposal that was never properly vetted in a public forum, your actions certainly do not follow the spirit of transparency and open government for which the State of Washington and the State Senate are known.
“Furthermore, the Committee’s recommendation to close the GET program far exceeds the directive given by the Legislature, which was simply to make a recommendation regarding differential tuition as it relates to the solvency of the GET program,” Murray wrote.
Tom polled committee members by email because too few of them were present at the last meeting to reach a consensus. Tom said he took the vote on Dec. 31 because one member, former state Sen. Lisa Brown, was going to begin a new job as chancellor of Washington State University-Spokane, on Jan. 1, and he did not want her to have the appearance of a conflict of interest when she voted.
“Out of deference to Senator Brown, Senator Murray is trying to attack me?” Tom asked Friday. “That makes no sense. I was doing it for her benefit, not mine.”
Tom’s committee released a report this week recommending that the GET program be closed. The college savings program is currently underfunded by about $631 million; the state actuary expects the fund to fully recover in about 20 years.
The committee was formed to make a recommendation to the Legislature on whether to allow state universities to charge different tuition for different programs, and to examine how that might affect the GET program.
January 9, 2013 at 6:36 PM
The state Attorney General’s office gave a quick response Wednesday to a question state Sen. Pam Roach, R- Auburn, asked this week about whether state university and college tuition rates must be approved by the Legislature.
At issue is whether Initiative 1185, the voter-approved initiative that requires a two-thirds vote to raise taxes, requires the state Legislature to approve tuition rates. And the answer is yes — in a letter to Roach, Deputy Solicitor General Jeffrey Even wrote that I-1185 has the same effect as its predecessor, I-1053, which requires legislative approval for an increase in public tuition rates, although “that legislative approval could take any number of potential forms.”
“The good news is that with this, thanks to voters approving it, the only way tuition is going up is if the Legislature chooses to vote for it,” said Tim Eyman, the sponsor of I-1185.
But University of Washington officials say they have sought, and received, legislative approval to raise tuition rates for several years now. The governing bodies at state schools vote on a tuition amount for the next year, and the tuition increases are later written into the state budget, which is then approved by the Legislature, said Margaret Shepherd, director of state relations for the UW. “We don’t see any change from current practice,” she said.
Eyman said he thinks the Legislature won’t give the universities that latitude this year. “In this tug of war, the last tug was the voters,” he said. “The Legislature has the authority to set tuition. They would be foolish to give it back.”
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