The House of Representatives late March 4 passed a bill 74-23 to create more higher education opportunities in Snohomish County.
Co-sponsored by Reps. Mike Hope and Hans Dunshee, Substitute House Bill 1792 would transfer management and leadership of the University Center of North Puget Sound to Washington State University in order to develop a high-demand baccalaureate program in Everett.
The 44th District representatives said the legislation is in response to a retiring workforce of engineers in the state.
“This is about jobs here at home. The tanker deal is worth up to 50,000 jobs in America—and we want those jobs here,” said Dunshee, D-Snohomish.
The bill would establish a coordinating and planning council to create a strategic plan for meeting the academic needs of the region by: building upon degree offerings at the University Center; meeting projected enrollment demands in the region; and providing high-demand programs to meet employer needs.
The proposal also directs expansion of engineering degree programs in a variety of disciplines such as civil, mechanical, aeronautical, and aerospace manufacturing.
Hope said the proposal was a better alternative than another proposal to create a taxing district, amounting to a $400 million tax increase.
“The 30,000 people in Snohomish County looking for work want job opportunities, not increased taxes,” said Hope, R-Lake Stevens. “This is a great opportunity for residents in our area to expand their skills and training to meet the high-demand opportunities in the current economy. We have a four-year land grant university that is willing and able to work with our local communities to establish a baccalaureate program and improve the economic development opportunities in our area.”
The legislation now goes to the Senate for consideration.