Washington’s State Budget and Washington State’s Competitiveness

4/6/09

I’d like to throw out a few factoids for your consideration:

1. Washington is a high-tech state. For example, we rank 4th among the 50 states in the number of individuals in science and engineering occupations, as a proportion of our workforce.

2. However, most of these high-tech workers are imported from other states. We rank 36th among the 50 states in bachelors degrees granted as a percentage of the 18-24 year-old population, and 27th among the states in Ph.D’s awarded as a percentage of the 25-34 year-old population.

3. This under-investment in higher education disadvantages kids who grow up here (who are denied the opportunity to prepare for high-tech jobs) and smaller companies (which must recruit from the local workforce).

4. All states are facing severe budget problems this year. But different states are dealing with them in different ways.

5. In Washington, higher education is slated for far deeper cuts than in any other high-tech state. In other words, a system that already disadvantages smaller companies and kids who grow up here is going to get far worse. See the chart below, and more information on how Washington’s budget proposal compares with peer states by clicking here.

highed1

6. This craziness could be addressed by making different budgetary choices (as all other high-tech states seem to be doing), and/or by allowing tuition to rise in order to avoid reducing capacity (UW tuition, even with an increase double what the Governor and the State Senate have proposed to allow, would still be the lowest among Global Challenge State peer institutions – less than $8,000 per year for a top-tier education; federal and institutional financial aid increases would maintain affordability).

7. You’ve got to decide what sort of future you want for your kids and your state. And then tell your legislators – you can find them here.

Ed Lazowska holds the Bill & Melinda Gates Chair in Computer Science & Engineering at the University of Washington. His research and teaching concern the design, implementation, and analysis of high performance computing and communication systems. Follow @

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