Legislative process stumbles over red-ink revenue forecast

The legislature plows into the eleventh week of session on Monday with a new, $700-million problem. On Thursday the state Economic and Revenue Forecast Council predicted the already yawning budget gap would widen further over the next two years, growing from about $4.4 billion to $5.1 billion.

As the forecast approached last week, state House budget writers hoped to be able to announce their plans to balance the current fiscal year budget as well as the 2011-2013 biennial budget. Needless to say, the grim forecast threw a wrench into those plans. Now lawmakers will have to huddle again and identify more cuts that their co-legislators can stomach.

On Monday, President Gaudino will be in Olympia for meetings with 12 key legislators in a single day. The president will discuss distance learning and the parameters of budget proposals. In particular, the President Gaudino will be urging lawmakers to provide funding for the design of a new science building. Science I was completed in 1998; the design of the second phase is overdue, with robust enrollment in physics and geology. The building also would house the Center for Excellence in Science Education.

Heres what the upcoming week looks like in the state capitol.

Monday, March 21

President Gaudino, Ann Anderson, and Steve DuPont will meet with

· Representatives Dunshee, Warnick, Santos, Smith, Asay

· Senators Conway, Murray, Rockefeller, Zarelli, Kastama, Keiser, Parlette, Holmquist-Newbry, Hewitt

House Higher Ed will hear

· SSB 5749 – Regarding the Washington advanced college tuition payment (GET) program.

· ESB 5764 – Creating innovate Washington, which includes the Washington clean energy partnership as a programmatic activity.

The committee may vote on the following:

SSB 5442 – Requiring the development of three-year baccalaureate programs.

2SSB 5636 – Concerning the University Center of North Puget Sound

Wednesday, March 23

House Higher Education may vote on the following bills

· SSB 5749 – Regarding the Washington advanced college tuition payment (GET) program.

· ESB 5764 – Creating innovate Washington, which includes the Washington clean energy partnership as a programmatic activity.

House Ways & Means may vote on the following bills.

· HB 1131 – Regarding student achievement fund allocations.

· SHB 1132 – Reducing compensation for educational and academic employees.

· HB 1742 – Addressing the alternate early retirement provisions for new members in plan 2 and plan 3 of the public employees’ retirement system, the teachers’ retirement system, and the school employees’ retirement system.

· HB 1981 – Addressing public employee post-retirement employment and higher education employees’ annuities and retirement income plans.

· HB 2021 – Limiting the annual increase amounts in the public employees’ retirement system plan 1 and the teachers’ retirement system plan 1.

· SB 5852 – Addressing the public employment of retirees from plan 1 of the teachers’ retirement system and plan 1 of the public employees’ retirement system.

The House Capital Budget will hear HB 1497, the capital budget proposed by the chair of the committee, Representative Hans Dunshee.

Thursday, March 24

House Higher Education will hear

· HB 1907 – Establishing the GET ready for college program.

· HB 1908 – Creating a peer mentoring program to encourage elementary school students to attend college.

· HB 1954 – Concerning public interest degrees.

The committee also will hold a work session on student support services, including academic and mental health counseling and support.

House State Government & Tribal Affairs will hear the following:

· SSB 5519 – Changing public contracting authority.

· SSB 5553 – Requiring public agencies, special purpose districts, and municipalities to post certain information on their web sites.

Capital Budget may adopt the 2011-2013 capital budgetthe one in which we hope to see Science II, yes, that one.

· HB 1497 – Adopting a 2011-2013 capital budget.

· HB 1348 – Concerning state general obligation bonds and related accounts.

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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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