Uptick in legislative info requests as session nears

Tomorrow morning Gov. Gregoire will trot out suggestions for closing the state’s anticipated $1.4 billion budget gap–$2 billion if you add what’s required for a rainy day fund. You can watch it on TVW on cable or at TVW.org online.

Just to get everyone warmed up for Thursday’s 10:00 a.m. conference, the governor’s budget director today sent a memo to “health care coalition unions” notifying them of the intent to reopen two-year labor contracts. The purpose? To reduce state contributions for state employees’ health care.

The response of the Washington Federation of State Employees?  The following is posted on the WFSE homepage:

Before there’s any talk of taking more from the state workforce she must convene a meeting of corporate entities and ask them to take a 3% cut in any tax break they are already receiving from the taxpayers of the state of Washington.

What else are policymakers interested in? Here are a few of the info requests we’ve responded to in the past several

  • % of student body that are state residents (94%)
  • difference between actual and projected tuition revenue for AY 2009
  • how the university allocates and recoups funds in some obscure accounts, including those covering motor pool, duplicating, and postage
  • tuition rate increase between 2010-11 and 2011-12 for categories of students other than resident undergraduates
  • administration and management practices that enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of operations throughout higher education campuses (this is actually a work group)
  • entirely new data for the Public Centralized Higher Education Enrollment System (“PCHEES,” which has take over Mark Lundgren’s life, I believe)
  • total expenditures on athletic program coaches (the sum of all of ours is less than the UW football + basketball coaches)
  • percentage of students in WA aerospace-related engineering and aerospace-related manufacturing programs are from:
    1.       Other countries?
    2.       Out-of-state?
    3.       WA?
    4.       Are any these programs customized and paid for by companies to train their workers? Which ones? What percentage compared to overall state funded (or partially state-funded)?

These are just the info requests I can remember. They do sometimes give us an inkling of where legislators are going in their budget and policy thinking. Thanks to John S., Coleen, Amy, Mark, Agnes and everyone else for helping us respond quickly to these interesting inquiries.



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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