Welcome to regular session, 2012

The final special session of 2011 ended without significant budget decisions about higher education funding. The 2012 session began on January 9, with options for both cuts and revenue on the table.  This is a “short” legislative session, scheduled to end in 60 days rather than the 105 days reserved for odd-numbered years in which the legislature creates a new biennial budget.

 

This year’s task is to write a supplemental budget that reduces spending by about $2 billion. The next revenue forecast will be on Feb. 16. No budget decisions are expected before that date when policymakers will learn more about the resources available–or not.

 

Following are some of the opportunities and issues that CWU will track this session:

 

  • Budget correction: CWU seeks a correction in a 2009 calculation that resulted in a budget cut roughly $500,000 greater than it should have been. That error has since compounded to a $1.6-million mistake. Legislative staff have confirmed the error, however legislators are not obligated to correct it.

 

  • Aerospace program FTEs. Last fall, in an effort to support the workforce needs of the aerospace industry, policymakers earmarked millions funds for research-university engineers. CWU was quick to point out that comprehensive universities, tool play a critical role in supporting aerospace with well-educated graduates. Legislators listened and have invited comprehensive institutions to submit proposals. CWU seeks support for mechanical engineer technology, industrial & engineering technology, and supply chain management.

 

  • Capital funding for shovel-ready projects. Leaders in the House and Senate have proposed creating jobs through education construction projects, which would be funded without increasing the state’s debt load. The state would issue revenue bonds backed by various state accounts and funds rather than the state general fund. Legislators asked universities to name projects that could begin within a few weeks of receiving funding. CWU has several projects that could be ready to go, including Science II, Samuelson, and combined utilities, to name a few.

 

  • Governance: The governor’s Higher Education Steering Committee met during late summer and fall to outline the form and functions of the agency that will replace the Higher Education Coordinating Board (HECB), slated to sunset in July 2012.  The governor is preparing legislation that may reconstitute the HECB as a larger agency with broader reach, including usurping some functions of trustees. The expanded role is not consistent with the vision of public baccalaureates represented on the committee by Dr. Gaudino as well as UW president Michael Young.

 

 

 

CWU HIGHER EDUCATION BILL WATCH

Following is a summary of bills of interest moving through the state legislature.

1/24/2012

Bill Subject Area / Effect Status

Academics

SB 6029 Requires three-year degree programs to be offered by fall 2012. Senate Higher Ed
HB 2258 Requires an online higher education transfer and student advising system. House Higher Ed
HB 2436 Requires quarterly academic advising for students at institutions of higher education. House Higher Ed
HB 2606 Creates a laboratory school program that brings together a university and a low-achieving public school in a partnership designed to improve student and educator success. House Education
HB 2336 Convenes an advisory committee to develop a model policy for the open licensing of courseware developed with state funds. House Ed Appropriations
SB 6164 Authorizes students in the military reserve to make up classes, tests, examinations, laboratories, or events without prejudice to the final course grade or evaluation. Senate Higher Ed

Administration

SB 5991 Extends mandatory child abuse reporting requirements to specified employees of institutions of higher education. Senate Human Services & Corrections
HB 2313 Requires the boards of trustees and regents 1) to follow procedures

for open public meetings in the open public meetings act; and

2) to provide time for public comment at each meeting.

House Higher Ed

Business

HB 2259 Minimizes the regulatory burden on institutions of higher education by eliminating reporting requirements that are duplicative of federal reporting requirements. House Higher Ed

Financial Aid

HB 2254 Makes the Passport to College Promise permanent, expands goals to include high school graduation of foster youth. House Ways & Means
SB 6121 Requires the office of student financial assistance to provide financial aid counseling curriculum for institutions of higher education. Senate Higher Ed
 

Governance

 
SB 6232

HB 2483

Abolishes the HECB and creates and transfers duties to the Office of the Student Achievement Council, which will 1.) set goals for increasing the educational attainment, and 2.) connect the work of K-12, two-year, and 4-year boards/agencies. Creates a legislative committee to review the council’s work and make budget recommendations to reach council goals.

 

Senate Higher Ed

House Higher Ed

 

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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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