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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Washington Legislature. Austin Jenkins is the Olympia correspondent for the Northwest News Network. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) weekly public affairs program "Inside Olympia."

Fight Brewing Over College Bound Scholarship

File photo by Colin Fogarty
Northwest News Network

OLYMPIA, Wash. – First it was Washington’s guaranteed tuition program. Now the new Majority Leader of the state senate has another college access program in his budget-cutting sights: College Bound. Democrat Rodney Tom says this higher education scholarship program is an unfunded state liability.

“It’s a great promise and it’s a promise that I think we should have as a state, Tom said.  "But, you know, it could be a $1 billion to $2 billion liability out there that we haven’t even recognized yet.”

College Bound is a paid tuition program for disadvantaged middle school students. They must maintain a 2.0 grade point average and avoid breaking the law. Senate Minority Leader Ed Murray calls Tom’s criticism a “direct attack” on college affordability.

“I’m just amazed at us stepping back from what was once viewed as a common good in this state and that we provided tools to help families pay for that education,” Murray said.

Washington lawmakers are looking for places to cut because of a nearly $1 billion budget shortfall and a state Supreme Court mandate to boost funding for public schools.