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Wednesday, January 30, 2008 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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UW North campus funds cut

Times Snohomish County Bureau

A legislative subcommittee Tuesday stripped funding for a proposed UW branch campus in Snohomish County, the first indication that the rest of the state may not share the region's eagerness for a new four-year college.

The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Education removed $1.1 million from the state budget proposed by Gov. Christine Gregoire. The subcommittee instead placed the money in the budget for community and technical colleges in Snohomish, Island and Skagit counties.

"We want to serve students in the region as efficiently as possible without hurting all the students at community and four-year colleges across the state," said Rep. Kathy Haigh, D-Shelton, who chairs the subcommittee.

The recommendation now goes to the full House Appropriations Committee.

A study commissioned by the 2006 Legislature recommended establishing a four-year college in the North Sound region to give students there access to four-year degree programs and to provide the state with more graduates in engineering, math and science.

The 2007 Legislature appropriated $4.4 million to begin academic planning and site selection for the new UW branch campus. Gregoire included an additional $1.1 million in her 2008 supplemental budget for the college to begin offering classes at a temporary location this fall.

But Haigh said she's not convinced the state can afford another four-year college without taking from existing institutions of higher education. She said other branch campuses, such as UW Bothell and UW Tacoma, as well as Washington State University, Vancouver, have started in partnership with local community colleges or have built up enrollment slowly.

UW planners in November recommended that the state avoid an incremental approach to launching the new college so that expensive laboratory programs in engineering, technology and the sciences could attract a sufficient number of students to help offset the cost. The UW estimated that the new college would cost about $800 million to build and would serve 5,000 students by 2025.

Competing bills in the Legislature have focused on where the college will be located, with the cities of Everett, Marysville and Lake Stevens all vying for the branch campus.

Rep. Hans Dunshee, D-Snohomish, vice chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, held out hope that funding for UW North could be restored. But he warned that backers need to unite around a location.

"A lot of people are fighting over the spot, but we don't have anything right now," Dunshee said.

Lynn Thompson: 425-745-7807 or lthompson@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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