Washington State regents want to work on a fundamental redesign of its public colleges. But they need to fix something really important to make it happen.

According to a piece by Dick Nelson at Crosscut:

The debate over the state’s education funding dilemma took a hopeful and perhaps decisive turn last week when the University of Washington Board of Regents weighed in on the need for revenue reform.

In passing the “Declaration of Concern for the Sustainability of Washington Public Higher Education,” the regents made it clear that nothing short of fundamental changes in the state’s financing system will suffice. According to their statement, this will require “reform of the state’s financial and revenue structures so as to provide a viable, dedicated stream of support for access to an affordable, quality public higher education for Washington’s residents.”

As Nelson points out, the regents did not emphasize cutting other programs to fund higher education. Nor were they talking about increasing efficiency to allow state colleges to do more. No, they just need more funding, and from new sources.

This would likely mean significant tax reform. According to the article, the regents “call upon the civic and political leaders of this state, as well as the public at large, to work in common to shape the change that is necessary to protect and nurture the realization of a well-educated and capable American populace.”

In other words, restore generous public funding.

In the last three years Washington State has cut $770 million from its higher education system. Last year Washington State colleges hiked tuition 16 percent, that was the third highest increase in the country.

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Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer