Johnson opposes tuition increase bill

Measure removes 7 percent cap, could add $677 to CWU tuition costs

Rep. Norm Johnson says he’s concerned that a bill approved Wednesday by the House of Representatives¬† may make a college education in Washington unaffordable for many families. House Bill 2344 would eliminate a 7 percent cap on annual tuition increases at the state’s four-year colleges and universities

Johnson voted against the measure, which passed the House 50-47.

Without a tuition lid, Johnson said there’s no limit to the increases four-year universities in Washington may seek.

“I think of the young people who work to pay their way through school. There’s not a whole lot of jobs right now for many of them. They need tuition to remain affordable,” said Johnson, R-Yakima.

Gov. Christine Gregoire has suggested tuition could be increased by 14 percent for each of the next two years. Johnson said an increase that large would add $677 annually to the cost of tuition at Central Washington University in Ellensburg, which many Yakima-area students attend. He added that would put a college education outside of the price range that many middle-income families could afford.

“Those from low-income families have various methods to help them afford college. It’s also to your advantage if you come from an extremely wealthy family. I have concerns, however, about my grandchildren and whether or not my children will be able to afford their increased tuition costs,” added Johnson. “These are the things that hit every working man and woman in our state. We need to hold the line on fees. Let’s not give the colleges a blank check.”

The measure now moves to the Senate for further consideration.

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Washington State House Republican Communications