Higher education deserves funding

By Thunderworld Staff

Funding for kindergarten through 12th grade education is imperative, but so is funding for higher education.

The educational years post-high school are just as important as the childhood years spent learning about primary colors or memorizing the capitals all 50 states.

The Washington state Legislature is not meeting the state constitutional order that requires ample funding of K-12 public education. 

The shortfall could ultimately add up to $4 billion in additional spending.

Washington's $93.7 billion budget dedicates $35.5 billion to social health and human services, $21.3 billion to public schools, $14.9 billion to higher education, $6.9 billion to transportation, $5.9 billion to governmental operations, $4.1 billion to natural resources, and $5.1 billion to debt services.

The Senate Republicans plan to accumulate the necessary funds is to cut any areas of the budget possible. The Democrats do not have a plan for the funding yet. 

The possibility of the state cutting every single category besides public schools is unlikely, since nearly 70 percent of the state budget is untouchable.

If the state was to proceed with the Republican plan, there would be a major impact on people's quality of lives on a day-to-day basis.

If Washington was to ever cut those untouchable parts of the budget, the state would risk losing all of the money provided by the federal government. 

As one of the seemingly inessential categories, the situation leaves higher education on the chopping block. 

It is unlikely the state would empty the prisons, or completely axe all social services, therefore higher education is often one of the first categories to be reduced when it comes time for budget cuts.

Highline relies on the state's money for more than half of the college's $44 million operating budget.

It is not necessary for every person to attend a university or earn a doctorate degree. But it is essential that every individual has the opportunity and resources available to pursue training or education after high school.

Sure, the state would save money in a world without higher education, but at what cost?

College classes and programs provide career skills, work experience, support networks, and countless other chances for an individual to discover their passion.

It is unrealistic to think that once a person graduates from high school, they are immediately ready to find and start a career, or will be able to make a decent living. 

If colleges and post-high school education programs receive less funding, this means higher tuition for students, in a market of tuition that is already sky-high.

Higher education institutions as a whole will also suffer. Less funding would result in less support for students and less program additions.

Programs such as state need grants and worker retraining should be protected, and are of the utmost importance due to the benefits they provide for individuals.

Some people think there is a way to have lower taxes, while increasing spending on particular categories, but that idea lacks logic.

Solutions for more funding do not come from cutting taxes, cutting assistance programs, or from magically printing money (which the state cannot do).

There is no easy answer. At the moment, it is simple to rule out the illogical budget plans, but it is a complex discussion waiting to happen when it comes to determining how to amply fund various levels of education.

It is not possible to cut your way to prosperity with state budgets, especially when people's quality of life is largely impacted by each cut.

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