New law to make college education more affordable in Washington state

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Within the next year, large businesses will start paying a tax that will let many people in Washington attend college for little or no cost.

Gov. Jay Inslee signs bill that will provide free or reduced college tuition for all ages

Free college education is a subject largely debated, especially during election time. With the upcoming primary and general elections, lawmakers and voters are looking at the issue with fresh eyes. Several eastern states are opposed to the idea while the majority of western states, including Washington, favor it.

Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee signed a major education bill last Tuesday that will efficiently provide free or reduced tuition for all ages of lower- and middle-income students. It will also provide new funding for community colleges or public institutions that are strapped, starting in 2020.

The Workforce Education Investment Act will give families of four making an annual income around $50,000 or less a full-tuition scholarship to college or apprenticeship training. It also provides partial tuition scholarships to families of four earning around $90,000.

This bill will generate more funds for the State Need Grant, which serves Washington state’s lowest-income college students.

This sounds good for Washington students, but whose pockets is this money coming out of?

Taxpayers will not foot the bill this time. Instead, Fortune 500 companies and local businesses will pay a surcharge tax. The largest tech companies like Amazon, Boeing, and Microsoft would pay a higher rate, up to $7 million a year, according to The New York Times.

Many of small local businesses have resisted the tax increase because their profit is not that large.

Although many politicians have not delivered on the promise of free or reduced college tuition, this is the first concrete step for Washington state to provide affordable and equitable education from a dedicated revenue source.