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2012: SJR 8223

2012: Senate Joint Resolution 8223 (approve/reject the University of Washington and Washington State University to invest in public funds as authorized by the legislature)

According to the Living Voters Guide, SJR 8223 would create an exception to constitutional restrictions on investing public funds by allowing the University of Washington and Washington State University to invest in specified public funds as authorized by the legislature, including private companies of stock.

 For full text of initiative, visit the Living Voters guide located at the Washington Secretary of State’s Elections & Voting site.

The global recession has resulted in historic reductions in funding for public higher education. These cuts have caused universities to limit course offerings, which has made it more difficult for students to enroll in the classes they need to graduate. Washington now ranks 40th nationally in terms of the percentage of residents with a bachelor’s degree or more.

 The pros:

  • Supports Washington students by providing new dollars to our public universities without more tax revenue.
  • The citizens of Washington have already amended this section of the State Constitution in order to allow higher return investments of pension and retirement funds and other public funds. Allowing this investment authority for University of Washington and Washington State University funds is a common sense way to maximize funding for higher education. Already, the Legislature and voters have granted the very same investment authority for University trust land revenues.
  • All investments will be managed on behalf of the universities by the highly-regarded professionals at the Washington State Investment Board, which is bound by the highest fiduciary standards.

 The cons:

  • This proposed Constitutional amendment does not support higher education. It gambles with students’ tuition and other public funds rather than investing in education.
  • This amendment is tied to a new law (SSB 6468) that allows UW and WSU to declare public money “not needed for immediate expenditure” and gamble that money in the stock market, with no limits on what they can declare “not needed” or how they can invest. Once the Constitution is changed, and with universities’ new unlimited tuition setting authority, all bets are off for what comes next.
  • In 2009 UW’s endowment lost half a billion dollars in stocks. Gambling on Wall Street will have disastrous effects when the stock market crashes again, cutting into university operating funds.
  • UW and WSU held $1.5 billion in cash during the financial crisis. They fired workers, cut services, and increased tuition, making things worse. They prioritized holding cash over instructional programs. They are rich, but plead poor.
  • UW and WSU want “flexibility” to run peripheral enterprises – hospitals, internal banks, venture funds, sports teams – by holding public money as collateral. “Flexibility” means making education last in line for support. Greed Mentality. This is a bad Constitutional amendment. It perpetuates the greed mentality Wall Street wants us to buy into. Do you want UW and WSU speculating on stocks or investing in education?


  • Lisa Brown, State Senator, Senate Majority Leader
  • Larry Seaquist, State Representative, Chair, House Higher Education Committee
  • Bill Gates, Sr., Regent, University of Washington
  • Scott Carson, Regent, Washington State University
  • Contact: sjr8223@yahoo.com


  • Gerald Barnett, Ph.D., Citizen
  • Maralyn Chase, State Senator, 32nd District
  • Bob Hasegawa, State Representative, 11th District
  • Jim McCune, State Representative, 2nd District
  • Sharon Tomiko Santos, State Representative, 37th District
  • Contact: (206) 587-5554; Info@publicmission.org; www.publicmission.org

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