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Legislative action puts branch campus in holding pattern
Brining a University of Washington branch campus to the North Sound area, and Marysville in particular, has suffered a couple of setbacks recently but, fortunately, local officials, business leaders and community members have vowed to continue their efforts to bring a branch campus to north Snohomish County.
The most recent setback occurred Feb. 12 when the state Senate Ways and Means Committee, headed by Chairperson Sen. Margarita Prentice, D-Renton, put on hold three pieces of legislation dealing with the formation of a North Sound UW branch campus. With those piece of legislation stuck in committee, it is unlikely that they will be acted upon by the Senate this session.
Another setback occurred in late January when the state House Appropriations Subcommittee on Education cut $1.1 million from Gov. Christine Gregoires proposed 2008 supplemental budget. Gov. Gregoire had proposed the funding for the UW branch campus to begin offering classes at a temporary location this fall. The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Education moved the money in the budget for community and technical colleges in Snohomish, Island and Skagit counties.
Explaining the Senate Ways and Means Committees decision to not act on the legislation, Sen. Prentice said that it is a very important decision that her committee takes very seriously. She should be commended for her decision to do it right, rather than to simply do it right now. There is a lot at stake for the communities involved and more importantly, there is a lot involved for the students in the North Sound area who will be directly affected by what our elected officials decide.
Because it is such an important decision, we cant just sit back and wait while the process is stalled in Olympia. We must continue to educate our elected officials as to why a branch campus is needed in the North Sound area, and continue to push for a location that best serves the needs of the students and the university.
And it shouldnt just be our local elected officials and business leaders who are involved in bringing a branch campus to the area. Members of our communities should take it upon themselves to get involved. They can get involved by writing individual letters to our states elected officials (go to www.arlingtontimes.com or www.marysvilleglobe.com and click on the link to elected officials) or by joining a group like the UW North Tri-County Coalition. Good ideas die easily when they get stuck in legislative committees. We cant let this happen to a North Sound branch campus. We need to keep the pressure up and we need to let our elected officials know that we will hold them accountable their actions or inactions. Get involved and be part of the effort to bring a branch campus to the North Sound area.
To contact a member of The Marysville Globe/Arlington Times editorial board Stuart Chernis or Scott Frank e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.