“We’re #2” – unfortunately

I doubt many Broncos fans were affixing “We’re #2!” bumper stickers on their cars after Denver’s Super Bowl whomping, but “silver medals” can be something to be proud of. Unfortunately our state has achieved its own #2 ranking, and it’s not one to celebrate.

The College Board examined tuition increases at state universities since 2008’s recession and found that Washington had the second-highest tuition jump during the period. It was, and remains, a tough economic climate for middle-class families. For those struggling to afford a college education, our tuition hikes just made it that much tougher here in Washington.

The big tuition increases are related to another sobering reality. It goes against the grain of what people believe about our state, but the reality is that our rankings for attaining bachelor’s and graduate degrees are decidedly underwhelming. Increasing a year’s tuition by $4,085 only hurts efforts to raise our statistics on those attending college and earning degrees. The number of jobs in this state that require a degree (67% by 2018, according to a Georgetown study) will only grow. If middle-class families are priced out of state universities, we’re only hurting ourselves.

We know why this happened. So many political leaders in this state campaigned on a promise to put education first, but when cuts had to be made, higher education was always first on the chopping block. State support for universities plummeted, first through neglect, then through conscious, devastating cuts during hard times. Democratic leaders who were writing and signing those budgets decided cutting higher education was easier than other cuts that would anger their supporters.

Thankfully, this dreadful trend was reversed because of the insistence of the Majority Coalition Caucus in the Senate. They fought to significantly increase state funding for higher education and freeze tuition, with leaders like Sen. Andy Hill, the Senate’s budget writer, working valiantly to stand up for education. That’s good news for Washington families and our future economy. Now, state leaders have an opportunity to slowly increase higher ed funding as the state budget grows, to not only stop the trend of rising tuition but actually reverse it.

— Rob McKenna


Sadly, state of Washington led nation in college costs
Union-Bulletin Editorial Board

In an open justice system — the kind Washington is supposed to have — privacy can’t be everything. Citizens must have a broad window on what’s happening in the courts they own.

But an obscure state judicial subcommittee wants the Washington Supreme Court to turn that broad window into a narrow peephole. It is proposing a radical expansion of secrecy in General Rule 15, a set of guidelines for deciding when court documents should be sealed.

In almost every way, the proposed amendments err on the side of hiding records. Corporations would find it easier to make lawsuits vanish. Paper trails created in the investigative phase of litigation would be easier to vaporize. Third parties “with an interest in nondisclosure” would be invited to argue for secrecy.

Read more:  http://www.thenewstribune.com/2014/05/14/3194453/a-radical-reach-for-secrecy-in.html

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Rob McKenna
Rob served two terms as Washington’s Attorney General, from 2005 to 2013. He successfully argued three cases before the U.S. Supreme Court and negotiated three of the largest consumer financial protection settlements in national history, all involving mortgage lending and servicing. He is a recognized leader in the development of consumer protections on the internet, in data protection and privacy regulation.