Before we get down to the heart of the matter, I’d like to take up this headline a moment: “GOP annoyed Gov. Inslee is taking credit for college-tuition cuts.” You’d really have to work at it (and headline writing is an art) to more clearly convey the idea, “Mere partisan squabble, don’t bother reading.”
It reminded a friend of another Times headline from 2012: “Republicans mock Inslee’s vision of an energy ‘revolution.’” He wrote on Facebook of the two headlines, “When Jay Inslee lies, the story isn’t the lie but those grumpy ol’ Republicans who whine about his lying.” And it should be noted of that 2012 headline, regarding the governor’s prognostications about green energy in his book, time has proven so many of them wrong.
Campaign season is stretch-the-truth season
Gov. Inslee is claiming in his TV ads that he lowered tuition for students at Washington’s public colleges. Republican leaders are calling him out for it, and well they should.
That’s because Gov. Inslee didn’t propose lowering tuition, legislative Republicans did. Gov. Inslee didn’t fight to increase higher ed funding in the final budget so tuition could be lowered, legislative Republicans did. In 2013, he proposed cutting higher ed and raising tuition. In 2015, his proposed budget kept tuition flat but didn’t lower it.
No, the record is quite clear: if GOP legislators hadn’t insisted on tuition cuts and fought for them, it wouldn’t have happened.
Inslee’s chief of staff agrees
But you don’t have to take my word for it. David Postman, who is now Inslee’s chief of staff, responded angrily in 2015 to the Seattle Times calling the Senate Republicans’ budget writer, Andy Hill, “a star” after the legislative session. Postman fired off a long missive to the story’s author, then forwarded it with an additional note to the Olympia press corps.
Postman’s contention was that Inslee and the Democrats “won” the legislative session by getting more of their priorities through in the final budget. In doing so, he forcefully conceded that cutting tuition was the Republicans’ idea and the Republicans’ priority. From his own pen:
- “Andy Hill wanted a tuition cut and to stop tax increases. He got a tuition cut…”
- “Republicans had one priority: cut tuition.”
- “Senate Republicans came into this session convinced they had to deliver something to the voters. They had a great idea to cut tuition.”
- He also calls it “Sen. Braun’s tuition cut plan.” Sen. John Braun is the Senate GOP’s budget deputy, and he certainly deserves credit for his insistence on lowering tuition.
Sen. Michael Baumgartner (R-Spokane) noted some relevant facts to the Times:
“Inslee’s 2015-17 budget proposal last year didn’t lower tuition even while seeking $1.4 billion in higher taxes, noted Baumgartner. And in 2013, the governor’s budget sought tuition increases of up to 10 percent.”
So is it disingenuous for Inslee to claim credit for lowering tuition in his campaign commercials? Yeah, it is. But be careful pointing it out, they might say you’re “annoyed”.