Trustee Dixon urges flexibility for governing boards

By the end of today House bills must be out of Senate fiscal committees and Senate bills out of House fiscal committees in order to remain viable. bills that are deemed “necessary to implement the budget” are the exception to this rule.

Trustee Dan Dixon is joining other trustees and regents today for meetings with leaders in the state House and Senate. They’ll be asking legislators to makefunding higher education a priority and to allow universities greater ability to manage their resources and operations. The governing boards are entrusted with the financial well being of universities, which have lost over 50% of state funding in just three years. Trustees will tell policymakers that boards need the resources and flexibility to manage campuses through this crisis

The Legislative Time Continuum is significantly different than the reality in which university governing boards operate. The legislature operates on Session Time, two-year budget and election cycles, and fiscal years. Session Time is 105 days from January through April this year and 60-day session in off-budget years–plus 30-day special session increments.

Amidst this timing chaos universities attempt to conduct strategic planning which coincides with academic and fiscal years. Key decisions such as tuition, enrollment, and financial aid parameters come before the governing boards in May and June. Let’s hope that by then the legislature has concluded business and established budget assumptions—for better or worse.

This week legislative activity will be hard to see as budget writers compose draft after draft of budget bills and count votes to see which drafts carry the most support. The next legislative deadline is April 4, when bills must have moved out of fiscal committees (Ways & Means) to survive.

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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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