Senate Joint Resolution 8223 – Taking a stand for higher education
The global recession has resulted in historic reductions in funding for public higher education. These cuts have caused universities to limit course offerings, which has made it more difficult for students to enroll in the classes they need to graduate. Washington now ranks 40th nationally in terms of the percentage of residents with a bachelor's degree or more.
SJR 8223, supported by broad bipartisan majorities in the Legislature, would support Washington students by providing new dollars to our public universities without more tax revenue.
The citizens of Washington have already amended this section of the State Constitution in order to allow higher return investments of pension and retirement funds and other public funds. Allowing this investment authority for University of Washington and Washington State University funds is a common sense way to maximize funding for higher education. Already, the Legislature and voters have granted the very same investment authority for University trust land revenues.
Finally, all investments will be managed on behalf of the universities by the highly-regarded professionals at the Washington State Investment Board, which is bound by the highest fiduciary standards.
Vote yes for Senate Joint Resolution 8223 to provide a more secure future for our students. Mr. Gates and Mr. Carson have signed this statement in their individual capacities as private citizens and do not speak for the University of Washington and Washington State University nor their respective Board of Regents.
Submitted by: Lisa Brown, State Senator, Senate Majority Leader; Larry Seaquist, State Representative, Chair, House Higher Education Committee; Bill Gates, Sr., Regent, University of Washington; Scott Carson, Regent, Washington State University
With state cuts threatening access and quality of higher education, SJR 8223 is common sense, responsible reform that mitigates increased reliance on tuition. Supported by students, the State Treasurer and bi-partisan elected leaders, this amendment allows existing, dedicated non-state funds to be invested responsibly for maximum benefit. The State Investment Board – not universities – will invest funds, guaranteeing independent oversight. To prepare the business and civic leaders of tomorrow requires taking action today. Vote yes!
This proposed Constitutional amendment does not support higher education. It gambles with students’ tuition and other public funds rather than investing in education.
This amendment is tied to a new law (SSB 6468) that allows UW and WSU to declare public money “not needed for immediate expenditure” and gamble that money in the stock market, with no limits on what they can declare “not needed” or how they can invest. Once the Constitution is changed, and with universities’ new unlimited tuition setting authority, all bets are off for what comes next.
Profit or Loss?
In 2009 UW’s endowment lost half a billion dollars in stocks. Gambling on Wall Street will have disastrous effects when the stock market crashes again, cutting into university operating funds.
UW and WSU held $1.5 billion in cash during the financial crisis. They fired workers, cut services, and increased tuition, making things worse. They prioritized holding cash over instructional programs. They are rich, but plead poor.
UW and WSU want “flexibility” to run peripheral enterprises - hospitals, internal banks, venture funds, sports teams - by holding public money as collateral. “Flexibility” means making education last in line for support. Greed Mentality. This is a bad Constitutional amendment. It perpetuates the greed mentality Wall Street wants us to buy into. Do you want UW and WSU speculating on stocks or investing in education? Vote No. Send UW and WSU a clear message about our education priorities.
Submitted by: Gerald Barnett, Ph.D., Citizen; Maralyn Chase, State Senator, 32nd District; Bob Hasegawa, State Representative, 11th District; Jim McCune, State Representative, 2nd District; Sharon Tomiko Santos, State Representative, 37th District
The proposed exception allows UW and WSU to gamble on stocks with operating funds. Prior constitutional exceptions are for trust funds. The State Investment Board also lost 23% in the crash. The scheme diverts from operations, without limitations, ten times the money it might make, and no guarantee that proceeds will ever support students. The legislature voted to let the public decide if this is bad policy. Don’t let universities divert operating funds to stocks.