UW And WSU Want To Play In The Stock Market
The University of Washington and Washington State University could possibly be in the stock market business once again, this time with funds required to cover their operating expenses. Come this November, if SJR 8223 is approved by Washington voters, the UW and WSU could potentially invest around 25% of the public funds they receive in the stocks and bonds of private companies, associations, or corporations. The goal is to generate returns on those investments that could be used for educational purposes like lowering tuition and increasing financial aid for students who really need it.
This sounds pretty risky, especially since UW and WSU have been historically prohibited from doing this by the state constitution. Schools run year-round and a loss in the stock market has an immediate negative impact. The Washington Investment Board (a.k.a. Money Experts) will have the authority on how and where the public money will be invested. By investing in low risk stocks and bonds, these schools could see an increase in revenue.
Due to the crazy amounts of recession in all of our lives (minus the 1 percenters) it’s easy to see that these universities need another way to make money and this could take the form of “safe” gambling by the Washington State Investment Board. Both UW and WSU are adamantly in support of this measure. During a Public Hearing in February, Margaret Shepherd and Chris Mulick, the respective Directors of State Relations for UW and WSU, both spoke in favor of the bill. They claimed SJR 8223 would provide an alternate avenue of funding beyond tuition and taxes. These types of investment are projected to bring in an extra $10-20 million a year!!! Sounds like a lot of money, huh? Hold your horses hot shot……..
Over the last 3 years, Washington State has cut $5 Billion (that’s right that’s Billion with a capital B) from early learning, K-12, and higher education. More cuts to education were considered, but were thankfully avoided through cuts in other parts of the state budget. So those $10-20 million that SJR 8223 is projected to generate through private investment are drops in the bucket compared to the amount that have already been cut from these universities' budgets.
In 2000, students paid 28% of the cost of education through tuition. In 2013, students will be paying 65% of the cost of education. Universities have hiked tuition due to the meager amount of funding these schools receive from the state. There’s not enough blood in my system to donate to make up for those expenses!
This measure seems like it’d bring in more revenue, but in the end it’s up to the voters to pass. I know that a lot of students currently paying a ridiculous amount of money to go to school and high school students who dream of attending UW and WSU could benefit a bit from this new revenue.
If Washington is really serious about investing in education, the state is going to need more revenue and SJR 8223 might be a way to do this. But state lawmakers who oversee the budget also need to fund higher education and exercise more ways to bring in revenue. Washington’s future prosperity depends on it.