Governor’s address, hearings highlight first week in Olympia

After 40 days and 40 nights of apocalyptic budget and announcements, Governor Chris Gregoire took a more reserved tone today when addressing a joint session of the state legislature in her State of the State speech. The governor called on Washington citizens to be resilient and to demonstrate the courage and resourcefulness Washingtonians displayed during the Great Depression. The speech, however, included no new policy or budget proposals.

Since December the governor has proposed significant changes in public higher education: an education mega-agency, double-digit cuts to university budgets, and salary and pension reductions. Most have been announced with a finality that has caused people to ask (me), “Can the governor really do that?”

The short answer is “no.” The longer answer to the question may be the familiar Olympia saying, “The governor proposes, the legislature disposes.” In other words, no single legislative body can act alone. All of the governor’s proposals will receive serious consideration and will have great influence, but she’ll still have to get 50 votes in the House and 25 in the Senate for most things she wants to do.

All four presidents of Washington’s comprehensive universities will team up for briefings with the Tacoma News Tribune and the Seattle Times later this month. CWU organized the meetings that will include newspaper editors and our own Dr. James Gaudino, Evergreen’s Dr. Les Purce, Western’s Dr. Bruce Shepard, and Eastern’s Dr. Rodolfo Arévalo. The purpose of the meetings is to provide editors the background they need to understand the effects of legislative proposals on higher education. Dr. Gaudino and I met with the Yakima Herald Republic in November and will meet with the Daily Record later in January.

Interesting hearings this week include Senate Ways & Means tomorrow where a panel of economists will discuss “The Great Recession and the Future of Washington’s Economy.” On Thursday catch Interim Provost Dr. Wayne Quirk on TVW when he briefs the House Higher Education Committee baccalaureate funding, the governor’s proposed budgets, and institutional budget priorities.

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About Linda Schactler

Linda is the former Director of Communications for the Washington State Senate, and former deputy director of the Washington State Higher Education Coordinating Board. From 2000 through 2010 Linda was the proprietor of Schactler Communications, an Olympia-based public affairs business. She holds a master of arts in English literature from Washington University in St. Louis. Linda can be reached at her Ellensburg office schactler@cwu.edu, 509-963-1384, or on her cell phone, 509-607-4103.
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