Beyond the Budget – What else happened during session?

Thanks to my good friend David for turning on the “comment” function for this blog.  I’m pretty sure there was an “on” switch that has been toggled the other way and I was just not smart enough to figure it out. Anyway, your comments and questions are welcome. I’ll do my best to respond to you quickly.

This is the first of a few blogs on legislative action other than the budget.  The way we all obsessed about it, you’d have thought that the budget was the only thing on the agenda. But there’s always something for everyone to love or hate during the legislative session.

For example, you might be interested to know that the state has eliminated the governing board for public baccalaureate education.

Since 1985 the Higher Education Coordinating Board has been charged with financial aid administration and policy work that represents “the broad public interest above the interests of the individual colleges and universities.” (I know, it hurts…)

SB 5182 give the state  one year to reinvent the HECB as two agencies. 

  • The Office of Student Financial Assistance: On July 1, 2012, all of the current student financial aid functions performed by the HECB are transferred to a newly created OSFA. It will administer all state and federal financial aid and the advanced college tuition payment program (the Guaranteed Education Tuition program).
  • The Council for Higher Education: The HECB is eliminated on July 1, 2012, and the Council for Higher Education is created, subject to recommendations of a Steering Committee on Higher Education and legislation enacted in 2012.
  • The Steering Committee on Higher Education is created immediately to figure out what the Council is for. The governor chairs the committee, which includes four legislators and equal representation from higher education sectors in the state.

The bill also eliminates several HECB reports, including

  • state support received by students,
  • the costs of higher education,
  • gender equity,
  • technology degree production,
  • costs and benefits of tuition and fee reciprocity with Oregon, Idaho, and British Columbia.

Any bill requests? Did you hear the one where the dog and the miniature horse go into a bar…..and it’s okay because the legislature passed a bill on that? More on that later this week.


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, 509-963-1384, or on her cell phone, 509-607-4103.
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