Good morning. Today is Thursday, Jan. 28, the 18th day of the 60-day legislative session.
“I thought it was a good way of making his point. But I don’t see there is a need for legislative action …”
– House Speaker Frank Chopp, Seattle Democrat, distancing himself from Democratic Rep. Jeff Morris’ proposal to link special aerospace tax breaks for Boeing to the jetmaker retaining more than half its work force in Washington.
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• The Washington State Lakes Protection Association holds “Lakes Day” in the Capitol’s north Rotunda.
• The Physical Therapy Association of Washington State holds its physical therapy day from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Columbia Room and at Tivoli Fountain, and also from 11:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on the Capitol steps. This follows an appearance by massage therapists Wednesday. An item in Wednesday’s Under the Dome mixed up the two events.
The House plans to work in caucus and on the floor tonight, beginning around 6, according to the Democratic Caucus. Measures on the list for action include House Bill 1165, which deals with prescription-drug disposal, and HB 1885, which proposes to bar the feeding of “potentially habituated” wildlife such as bears, coyotes and raccoons.
Legislative hearings include:
• 8 a.m.: The House Finance Committee hears a bill on tourism taxes that could have a bearing on financing for upgrades to the University of Washington football stadium.
• 8 a.m.: The House State Government and Tribal Affairs Committee hears numerous initiative-related measures, including distance requirements for signature-gatherers and revocation of signatures. Bills already heard on initiatives and referenda could be voted on.
• Friday is Housing and Homeless Advocacy Day, focusing on hunger. The all-day event starts at 8 a.m. in the Columbia Room, and other activities are on the Capitol steps.
• Legislative interns get a chance to meet the governor from 1 to 2 p.m. Friday in the State Reception Room.
FINANCIAL AID IN PERIL
University of Washington President Mark Emmert says tuition keeps going up, but he thinks his university still is underpriced for the wealthy who send their children to the college.
Emmert also told The Olympian’s editorial board Wednesday morning that preserving state need grants for college students – including UW’s Husky Promise program, which serves 7,000 students from low- and modest-income families – is a top priority at the Legislature this year.
Lawmakers cut about 20 percent of the college budget last year to about $310 million a year, which led to layoffs of 550 people and elimination of more than 450 more positions, UW officials say. Now, Gov. Chris Gregoire has proposed cutting the funding to less than $300 million a year, and her first no-new-taxes budget lopped more than $146 million in State Need Grants.
But Emmert said it is essential to maintain financial aid as the college raises tuition – 14 percent this year and likely another 14 percent next year – to make up for some of the lost state funding.
He said a recent survey by a student regent found students’ top priority was the quality of education and tuition was second, and he supports efforts to find more money for the university system.
State spending is rising 38 percent over the decade from 2001 to 2011, while funding for the UW is expected to have fallen 12 percent, according its own budget calculations.
Emmert said in-state tuition runs $7,700 a year. Undergraduate tuition for out-of-state students, by contrast, is $24,000.
The president said he supports legislation giving university regents the power to set tuition rates – with limits that would cap aggregate increases over a 15-year period.
The college is launching a campaign to promote its Husky Promise scholarships program, which admits about a quarter of the UW’s undergraduates without them paying tuition or fees. Qualifying students are from families at or below the 65th percentile for income, which is less than $60,000 a year for a family of four.
Compiled by Brad Shannon, staff writer