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In the News

WSU’s Elson Floyd: Don’t expect an open spigot for higher-ed funding

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Washington State University President Elson S. Floyd addressed the audience during a Business Journal Live Event at the Harbor Club in Bellevue on Thursday. His comments concerning the need to continue a conversation with legislators about the importance of funding public higher education is of interests to all advocates who care about support for our state’s baccalaureate institutions, including WSU. Puget Sound Business Journal Publisher Gordon Prouty (right) is looking on.

George Erb – Editor, Puget Sound Business Journal

Legislators in Washington state and across the nation slashed taxpayer support for higher education as they grappled with the effects of the Great Recession.

Now that the U.S. economy is well into a long and painful recovery, will state lawmakers pour money into their public universities?

Washington State University President Elson Floyd is doubtful.

“It’s not going to increase significantly,” Floyd said of state support for public universities. “It’s probably going to go down.”

“But that doesn’t mean that we should not be as committed,” he added.

Floyd addressed the issue of funding for higher education during a Business Journal Live event Thursday at the Harbor Club in downtown Bellevue. The topic arose during a question-and-answer period at the end of the program.

Floyd praised the 2013 Washington state Legislature for providing enough taxpayer support that none of the state’s four-year universities needed to increase tuition for the first time in years.

But advocates of higher education should not interpret the Legislature’s action as a sign that lawmakers will open the spigots in the years ahead, Floyd warned.

State revenues have not increased significantly, and voters routinely give higher priorities to supporting social services and K-12 education. Legislators are acting accordingly, Floyd said.

“It’s not going to change,” he said. “It’s pretty much what it is.”

Nonetheless, the rising cost of higher education for young people is a national issue that deserves our attention, Floyd said.

“It’s a long-term conversation, but it’s an important one for us to have,” he said.

 

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