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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."

Washington Senate Majority Wants More Higher Ed Funding

Alexandra Kocik
Northwest News Network

OLYMPIA, Wash. – The mostly Republican majority in the Washington state Senate want to spend an extra $300 million on higher education. Tuesday, Republican budget-writers unveiled a plan that would increase money universities receive and fully fund the state’s prepaid tuition program.

The Guaranteed Education Tuition program, or GET, allows parents to pay for university credits long before their kids are old enough for college. At the beginning of the year, Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom pointed to GET as a liability and flagged it for possible elimination. But, now the majority coalition he leads wants to preserve the popular program.

“GET is a good program," said Republican Sen. Michael Baumgartner at a news conference. "We want affordable higher education in this state. We need to fund it. If you fund it, there’s no problem with GET.”

The Senate majority’s proposal would also reduce university tuition and increase state need grants. However, there was no mention of where the funding would come from. This plan for higher education comes before Washington lawmakers unveil how they would meet a court ruling to increase K-12 funding.

On the Web:

SB 5883: Public higher education funding - Washington Legislature 
"Ten-Three-Fifty" plan announcement - Washington Senate Republican Caucus