Legislative funding for higher education has been a contentious topic in the last month.
Members of the state House of Representatives and Senate are each proposing to raise tuition at community colleges up to 12 percent per year. This means students who want to attend a community college will struggle with finances more than they already are.
Not only will students be penalized, but faculty at these community colleges could be downsized. The job cuts will be noticeable, especially for part-time instructors won’t be teaching as many classes.
According to Puyallup campus political science professor John Lucas, 5-10 percent of the full-time Pierce College faculty could leave per year and these instructors will not be replaced. Fewer teachers working means fewer classes will be offered. In the Pierce College District, 18 faculty positions are currently unfilled. There are no intentions to fill these positions.
The House budget is proposing for two-year college faculty to have the same rights as four-year university faculty to negotiate salary issues. About 15 percent of the community college’s budget (not counting benefits) is used to pay full-time faculty.
Legally, the other 85 percent can’t be used to pay the faculty. The change the House members are proposing would allow for that other 85 percent to be opened to other uses. Typically, the faculty is in support of this change, but the administration is not. Lucas said it will be a longshot for this bill to pass.
The House is proposing an 11 percent reduction and the senate is proposing a 15 percent reduction from the state budget. This means that administration, staff and faculty will be cut. The proposal is to move continuing education onto campus.
Students can get involved by calling to their representatives. They can do this by contacting their legislative hotline at 1-800-562-6000.
Students should leave a message. In this message, students should state who their representative is and what they want that representative to do.
If a student doesn’t know who their representatives are, they can go online and look at the state map on the secretary of state’s webpage, sos.wa.gov. Another way of contacting state representative is through e-mail.
“Politicians are petrified to cut Social Security because that will affect our older citizens, and those are the ones who vote most. Politicians are going to respond to the people who care,” Lucas said.
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