Regents urge lawmakers not to cut higher education

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OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) -- Regents and trustees from Washington' s universities and community colleges are in Olympia, telling state lawmakers to not make further cuts to higher education.

The Tuesday gathering of more than two dozen higher education leaders comes as the Legislature tries to deal with a $1 billion operating budget deficit. Legislators are considering cuts to public safety, human services and education, though some are calling for a tax package to be put before voters to help mitigate any reductions.

Washington State University Regent Ted Baseler says higher education is in a "severe crisis" in the state. Last year lawmakers cut $500 million in state support to higher education, but also passed a bill allowing the schools to set their own tuition rates. Last year the University of Washington increased tuition by 20 percent - one of the single biggest percentage cost spikes in school history.