Dear Friends and Neighbors,
For the sake of Washington's public college students and their families, and the taxpayers who help subsidize their education, it is imperative we increase transparency, accountability and affordability at our state's higher education institutions. This session, I've introduced three bills that seek to do that.
House Bill 2574 would direct public colleges to reduce their administrative positions down to 2008 levels. Higher education employment is growing at twice the rate of other government employment. And while the faculty-to-student ratio at state colleges has remained constant over the past two decades, the administrator-to-student ratio has grown by 150 percent. This growth has made college both less affordable and less cost-effective. While students have seen their tuition and debt soar, college administrators have enjoyed salary hikes and cushy benefits. My bill prioritizes students by saving tens of millions of dollars that could be used to pay for financial aid, tuition relief, or more undergraduate slots.
House Bill 2274 would require the University of Washington to invest its endowment at the Washington State Investment Board (WSIB), rather than relying on its own investment management company. The university currently spends $33 million per year managing its endowment, whereas it would only cost the WSIB about $1 million to manage the same portfolio. Even worse, investments managed by UW consistently lag behind those managed by the WSIB. Between the lower fees and higher returns that could be realized under my bill, UW could grow its endowment by an additional $60 million per year. That's money that could be allocated to help students instead of lining the pockets of highly paid investment managers.
House Bill 2283 would instruct UW and Washington State University to publicly report data about students admitted outside of the regular admissions process, including children and relatives of university officials and donors. The bill would also mandate that a three-person panel—containing at least two faculty members—must approve the applications of students who don't qualify through the regular admissions process. It is imperative our flagship universities be transparent and accountable to the public. We must ensure the state is never home to our own college admissions scandal. By requiring transparency regarding the use of special admissions, we can ensure all college applicants are competing on an equal playing field when competing for admission to these universities, regardless of their family's background, wealth or connections.
I'm proud to share that hearings on all three bills have already been held in the House College and Workforce Development Committee, and that HB 2283 was voted out of committee last week.
I welcome your thoughts on these bills, as well as any other ideas you have to increase transparency, accountability and affordability at our state's higher education institutions.
It is an honor to serve you.