By Shawn Gross ’12
Washington state continues to suffer from a tough economic slump. This is reflected by the lack of job growth and the cutting of several state programs. Local legislatures are attempting to balance the states budget by combining a mixture of dynamic and aggressive revenue increases and program cuts. At the same time, another narrative is being played out on the national level.
There seems to be a gradual moving of the government. On the one hand Washington state can look forward to a federal healthcare system sweep in 2014, one that will move most funding for healthcare onto the federal government leaving room for program growth in other areas, but the effects of the recession are cutting several programs now, and student aid funding is one of them.
More specifically Laurie Jinkins, State Representative for the 27th district highlighted “suspending state work study programs, reducing state support to colleges and universities by twenty percent, and eliminating state need grant financial aid to students.” as possible cuts that would negatively effect students. “Come 2012 it all depends where the voters are. If Jobs are the big concern then sadly cuts will be made and education is one of them. If the legislature feels like it can get things done by filling loopholes then we have options.”
Loopholes are the fine print that allow for ambiguity when laws or initiatives are enacted which allow certain groups affected by legislation to bypass some requirement. Laurie Jinkins attempted to close a banking loophole and transfer those funds to pay for educational programs,but came up short on votes last year. Loopholes are used to get individuals in the legislature to sign onto bills that they normally wouldn’t agree with. but since their “special interests” are being fulfilled they vote yes, thus creating a loophole. Republicans are the reason that Jinkins “revenue bill” was not passed. For the past six years Republicans in both federal and state governments have promised not to raised taxes.
The Republican party is calling for more cuts to federal programs. In the most recent GOP presidential debate, all the GOP candidates supported cutting federal loan programs. This would cut off student borrowers so that the loan debt bubble doesn’t get any larger and the government is not stuck footing the bill.
While acknowledging the issue of federal loan indebtedness, President Obama has implemented an executive order that will reduce the amount students have to pay coming out of college. The program also ensures that students are aware of the life of their loans before they take them out. The executive order gives students leeway when it comes to fulfilling their obligations.
For students with need based support, both federal and state governments will likely be considering cutting funding. The Republican candidates are adamant about cutting Pell Grant Funding, while at the same time, for budgetary reasons, Washington state will consider cutting the State Need Grant.
The Future of Higher education is not looking so bright. The need for dramatic decreases in Federal and State spending is cutting into the support students need for college. While it would be hard to sell a revenue package to republicans without it looking like a tax to them, Democrats will buy anything. Government in 2014 will look a lot different than it does today, but your vote in 2012 will help shape that future.
This election season students need to make their choice. Below I have provided links to some of the election ads in their pilot stages. Show them what students think about the importance of education and go out and vote.
Obama PAC Ad
“Priorities USA, the non-profit arm of Priorities USA Action, a super PAC run by former Obama aides, also announced an ad buy targeting Republicans for supporting cuts to Pell Grants.The Republican plan would dramatically cut student grants and put college out of reach for many Americans in order to provide even more tax cuts for big corporations and the wealthy,” Bill Burton, Senior Strategist for Priorities USA, said in a statement. “Instead of cutting higher education, Washington should be taking immediate action to make college more affordable for middle class families.”