A few hours before the Apple Cup kickoff Friday, Gov. Jay Inslee met with the regents of the University of Washington and Washington State University and pledged support for more money for higher education.
Inslee also urged the schools to invite legislators to campus, show them the universities’ top accomplishments and make the pitch for higher-education funding as part of the tours.
“We have to find a way to increase revenues or you’re going to be back on the tuition-increase treadmill all over again,” said Inslee, who met with the regents in a ground-floor boardroom inside Husky Stadium, to the left of the main entrance gate. The meeting was drowned out on one occasion by the sound of the Cougar marching band warming up outside the room.
After several years of raising tuition by double-digits, the state’s two- and four-year colleges and universities received enough of a funding boost from the Legislature this year to keep tuition flat for the next two academic years.
After the meeting, Inslee said he thinks all the money needed to increase K-12 and higher-education funding can come from closing tax loopholes. He said he is not talking about another form of tax increase, although some legislators have argued that closing loopholes amounts to the same thing.
“We are looking for revenue sources that are possible, politically,” Inslee said, adding, “We have a slew of other tax exemptions that have accrued barnacles over the decades” and no longer make sense economically for the state.
Inslee joked that legislative tours of campus could become a kind of competition, and that each school should try to outdo the other in getting more lawmakers on campus. “One thing I’ve learned is the single most powerful thing to get people to advocate your position is to get them to understand your position,” Inslee said — and that understanding often begins with a visit and a tour.
UW and WSU regents meet together once each year, usually just before the Apple Cup, and trade good-natured ribbing about which school is most likely to come out on top. Inslee, a UW graduate, would as governor present the Apple Cup to the game’s winning team, but he said he was thinking about handing that honor over to his wife, Trudi, if the Cougars prevailed. Trudi Inslee attended WSU.