I gave credit to the Seattle Times for their articulate explication of the importance of the Legislature’s action on higher ed this week. So, it’s only fair that I give kudos to the PSRC’s own Bob Drewel for his similarly effective communication on the subject.
And again, full text included below for your enjoyment:
I wanted to underscore another milestone of our collective work to ensure long-term prosperity for our region’s residents, and thank each and every one of you who contributed. As you have probably heard, the state Legislature has passed – with bi-partisan majorities in each house – legislation which enacts a majority of the recommendations of the Governor’s Higher Education Funding Task Force, increasing access to the college degrees that we will need to compete in the 21st century economy.
Since last summer, Prosperity Partnership has been hard at work to ensure action by the 2011 Legislature. Washington needs well-educated people to meet the demands of the new economy. An accessible, affordable and accountable public higher education system allows the people of the state to compete for good jobs and companies to find qualified employees. In the face of significant budget cuts to our four-year institutions, HB 1795 grants our higher education institutions the flexibility to set tuition at rates that balance affordability with access, increase financial aid for low- and middle-income students, and tie state funding to clear, measurable outcomes.
Our collective success is yet another testament to the power of partnership. We would not be able to celebrate without the exceptional leadership of Microsoft Vice-President Brad Smith (co-chair of the Governor’s Higher Education Funding Task Force and Prosperity Partnership co-chair), as well as a long-list of stakeholders that includes the Boeing Company, WTIA, SPEEA, WBBA, Technology Alliance, the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce, the leadership of the Puget Sound Regional Council and the Washington Roundtable. Of course, we all owe a great debt of gratitude to Governor Gregoire, who convened the Task Force last summer.
We were blessed with legislative leaders who got the hard work done on our Higher Education and Ways and Means committees, House and Senate, Republican and Democrat. Without their commitment to our state’s future and willingness to creatively dig in and find common ground, this would not have happened. There are also numerous examples of legislators in the trenches who came a long way to advance this. Please take some time to thank each and every one of them individually. I am.
In these difficult economic times, I’m pleased to be able to share with you this positive news in our shared efforts to improve our region and state, and I look forward to continuing to work with all of you to find ways to continue to strengthen Washington’s competitiveness in the global economy.
Puget Sound Regional Council