House committee hears Rep. Vicki Kraft’s higher education budget transparency bill

The House College and Workforce Development Committee held a public hearing Tuesday on House Bill 2089

The high cost of college tuition has prompted legislation by Rep. Vicki Kraft (R-Vancouver) that seeks to give the public a clearer view of what is included in individual four-year public college and university budgets in Washington state.

Rep. Vicki Kraft, R-Vancouver, testifies before the House College and Workforce Development Committee on House Bill 2089, a measure she introduced to create more transparency in higher education budgets and expenses. Photo courtesy of Washington State House Republican Communications
Rep. Vicki Kraft, R-Vancouver, testifies before the House College and Workforce Development Committee on House Bill 2089, a measure she introduced to create more transparency in higher education budgets and expenses. Photo courtesy of Washington State House Republican Communications

The House College and Workforce Development Committee held a public hearing Tuesday on House Bill 2089. The measure would require the four-year institutions of higher learning to submit their administrative, academic and auxiliary unit budgets to the state’s Education Research and Data Center (ERDC) for public display online.

“We hear a lot in this committee about trying to help students go to college and make it more affordable. It makes me wonder why is the cost of college and universities so expensive? So that’s really where this bill comes from — putting transparency in the process,” said Kraft, R-Vancouver, a member of the College and Workforce Development Committee who testified Tuesday.

“This bill would create a more transparent look at what the four-year institutions of higher education have for expenses and revenue, so we can see that and really drill down into the department level costs,” added Kraft.

The ERDC compiles data about students as they move through school to the workforce. The bill would require both revenue and expenditures to be displayed on its website. The higher education institutions are directed by the bill to submit their budget information to ERDC within 60 days after it has been adopted by their respective boards of trustees. The institutions would also be required to provide a link on their websites to the budget information on the ERDC website that includes a description of the information.

“This would help students, parents, legislators and other interested citizens to understand what the true cost drivers are,” said Kraft, “and it brings a further level of accountability from our higher ed institutions to those that they serve.”

The committee has until Feb. 7 to take action on the bill.

Information provided by Washington State House Republican Communications, houserepublicans.wa.gov

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