Issues

Building a Working Washington Through Higher Education

I believe if you work hard and keep your sights set on a productive career, a high-quality education that opens the door to new career opportunities should be accessible, affordable, and will prepare you for the workforce.

Jay with college students

Add your name today, and show your support for building a working Washington!

A high-quality public education system is essential to preparing our citizens for tomorrow’s jobs and is a leading factor in our ability to attract and retain new businesses and educated, entrepreneurial talent to our state economy. 

Higher education should be a pathway to a family-wage job. Unfortunately, the status quo is not working for many aspiring college students. Hard-working, middle-class families should not be burdened with nearly insurmountable debt in order to achieve a world-class higher education that is key to a successful career.

That is why we must hold the line against any further tuition hikes and gradually increase state support for colleges as the state’s budget outlook improves. 

I will make higher education more affordable, more accessible, and better tailored to the workforce needs of our state's employers. 

My higher education plan is based on four principles: affordability, accessibilty, workforce development, and improving outcomes.

Here are some key highlights from my plan:

Affordability

  • Increase state funding for higher education and stop reliance on tuition increases as revenues become available.
  • Build upon the Higher Education Loan Program (HELP), and explore ways to provide undergraduate student loans at an interest rate capped at 3 percent.
  • Protect the Guaranteed Education Tuition (GET) program and encourage more families to enroll.
  • Provide ample State Need Grant funds and provide better coordination of state and federal grant aid.

Accessibility

  • Fix the leaky pipeline from high school to post-secondary graduation and put more working Washingtonians on a path to a better job.
  • Help students complete their degrees in targeted, high quality, faculty-driven online learning (eDegree) courses and curricula that meet the workforce needs of high-demand fields.
  • Create innovative partnerships between our research universities and online course providers.
  • Increase baccalaureate capacity at community and technical colleges throughout the state, particularly in applied technology fields.
  • Expand open course materials to textbook creation and provide more affordable printing of these materials for all institutions.

Workforce development

  • Prioritize STEM degree production in crucial fields like computer science, engineering, health care, international trade and logistics, and biotechnology. I will focus state dollars on building enrollments, and partner with the private sector to invest in high demand fields through new partnership funds.
  • Explore new partnerships in order to reinvigorate the manufacturing industry that is losing a growing number of skilled workers to retirement. 
  • Lead a coordinated statewide effort, engaging all levels of education, from primary to our post-secondary institutions and worker re-training programs, in order to fill the growing need for engineers in our aerospace industry. 

Improving outcomes 

  • Increase baccalaureate capacity at community and technical colleges throughout the state, particularly in applied technology fields.
  • Explore ways to incentivize completion-based budgeting and job placement performance, rather than traditional enrollment-based budgeting.  
  • Enhance commercialization capabilities at our research institutions by giving them more flexibility in using the funds generated from patent and technology licensing to reinvest in other technologies. This may require a narrow constitutional amendment.
  • Identify additional regulatory, statutory or cultural barriers to commercialization efforts and work with research institutions to remove them.

Download the full plan.