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Making Changes Families Can Count On: Governor Gregoire Invests to Increase Access to Higher Education and Opportunities for Skill Development

For Immediate Release: December 14, 2006

Well-trained, highly educated citizens are key to making sure Washington remains open for business

VANCOUVER – Governor Chris Gregoire today at Washington State University Vancouver announced she will invest in higher education and workforce programs so Washingtonians are prepared to compete in a global economy and businesses are able to find qualified employees – right here in Washington.

Washington must invest in a quality education system to ensure that students are able to compete for good, well-paying jobs. The opportunities for our state to compete in the global economy and the vitality of our arts and civic affairs depend on well-trained and highly educated citizens. Our competitors in this new economy are not just other states, but businesses and workers around the world.

“We must ensure that every Washington citizen has the opportunity to develop their skills and talents to the best of their ability,” said Governor Gregoire. “The health of our economy and the strength of our workforce depend on the quality of our education and training opportunities.”

Governor Gregoire will keep Washington open for business by:

  • Supporting rural education networks, such as WWAMI (Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana, Idaho) and RIDE (Regional Initiative in Dental Education), so that more qualified doctors, nurses and dentists are able to practice, particularly in rural areas;
  • Freezing tuition at community and technical colleges for the next two years and limiting annual tuition increases to make college more affordable and accessible;
  • Providing thousands of new high-demand enrollment spaces in colleges and universities, and Regional Opportunity Grants for job training for local employment in order to address regional workforce needs;
  • Helping to turn research into products so that our state’s research universities can turn their work into commercially viable products; and
  • Supporting small business development so that more small businesses in Washington are likely to succeed and our economy continues to diversify.

“Investments in education will have far-reaching effects: higher achievement will result in better paying jobs, stronger communities and reduced rates of crime,” said Governor Gregoire. “Students will earn the degrees that are in demand by local employers and Washington businesses will have a well-trained and educated workforce.”

Governor Gregoire made education her top priority and in 2006, she increased opportunities for Washington students to earn four-year college degrees by supporting bachelor-of-applied science programs at four Washington technical and community colleges. She also expanded enrollment at state colleges and universities and she established four-year programs at WSU Vancouver, UW Tacoma and UW Bothell.