Legislature Passes Halfway Mark, Readies for Budget Season

As you will recall from having studied your session cut-off calendar, the legislative clock ticked past the half-way mark last week. On March 13, House bills had to have been voted out of the House and Senate bills out of the Senate to be viable.  I will post a “dead bill” list later, with the understanding that even dead bills should be considered to be on life support until the session is over.  

In addition to being driven by legislative deadlines, the budget process pivots on state reports that define the size of the budget. On Thursday one of those reports came out. It’s the job of the  Caseload Forecast Council to tell budget writers what their baseline obligation is: how many kids in school, people in prison, clients needing Medicaid. It turns out that our bills for Medicaid will be about $300 million more than anticipated because of a miscalculation in how much of the tab the feds would pick up.

Next week, on the 20th, the Revenue Forecast Council will report how much money the legislature will have to spend–how much cash taxes and fees have generated. Unfortunately, the news is not expected to be very good. The initial March update says that revenue is flat. But policymakers are expecting that the effects of the federal budget sequester will poke a $500 milllion hole in the budget. Tune in, to see.

The House and Senate have been feverishly developing budgets so that they can release them as soon as the forecasts are out. CWU fiscal and government relations staff have been fielding all sorts of requests for budget information. Essentially they boil down to tweaks in the budget recipe: tuition + state support + miscellaneous = two-year budget.

These tweaks are usually accomplished with the questions, “Exactly what will you spend this on? How many more degrees will you produce?   How many in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math?

So what’s next?  Actually House Republicans were the first out of the gate with a 2013-2015 budget proposal this year.  The Senate Republicans will be next (last week of March), then the House Democrats (first week of April).

Meantime, bills are moving forward. Here’s an update, fresh from Wednesday’s big cutoff.

CWU HIGHER EDUCATION BILL WATCH

3/16/2013

Welcome to the CWU Bill Watch. This table spotlights bills of particular interest to the university. For comprehensive bill information please see http://apps.leg.wa.gov/billinfo/. Bills marked with a * have moved forward in the process since the last bill update. No bill is dead till the end of session, particularly if it can be considered “necessary to implement the budget.”

     

Bill

SUBJECT AREA / EFFECT

Estimated Status

 

ACADEMICS

 
SB 5559 Authorizing CWU and WWU to offer the Education Specialist degree *House Rules
HB 1866 Continues state funding for the Joint Center for Aerospace Technology Innovation, under the joint operations of the UW and WSU. *Senate Trade
SB 5180 Establishes a legislative task force on improving access to higher education for students with disabilities. *House Rules
HB 1858 Requires each institution of higher education to adopt a policy to award academic credit for military training. *Senate Higher Ed
HB 1669 The BOT must notify students at least six months before establishing a new self-supporting, fee-based degree program or change a state-funded degree program to self support. *Senate Higher Ed
SB 5559  Authorizing CWU to offer the educational specialist degree. *House Higher Ed
 

CAPITAL

 
HB 1841 Authorizing electronic competitive bidding for state public works contracting *Senate Gov Ops
HB 1405 Creating a competitive grant program for informal science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education. DEAD House Capital
HB 1769

 

 

Increases the threshold for minor works projects from $2 million to $5 million, and for predesign from $5 million to $10 million for higher education institutions. Permits the regional universities to enter into financing contracts for real property, that are not subject to allotment or appropriation by the Legislature and are payable only from local fees and revenues. *Senate Ways & Means

 

 

ENROLLMENT

 
HB 1739 Requiring guidelines for the percentage of resident, nonresident, and foreign students at institutions of higher education.

 

DEAD House Rules
 

FINANCIAL AID

 
HB 1453  Allows students carrying 3 quarter credits to be eligible for the State Need Grant DEAD House Approps
HB 1817 Makes some undocumented students eligible for the State Need Grant and the College Bound Scholarship. *Senate Higher Ed
SB 5195  Allowing WGU to participate in the state need grant program. *House Higher Ed
 

K-12 EDUCATION

 
HB 1872

SB 5755

Defines STEM education. Develop develop evidence-based approaches to enhancing STEM education. Creates WA STEM Education Innovation Alliance to advise the governor *Senate Early Learning

*House education

 

TUITION & FEES

 
HB 1043 Removes the authority for public baccalaureate institutions to set differential tuition rates for resident, undergraduate programs

 

*Senate Higher Ed
SB 5420 Enacts a two-year freeze on tuition IF the state provides no less than $225 million for the six public baccalaureates. DEAD Senate Ways & Means
SB 5421  Declares that the policy of the state is to: 1) Improve the access to and the quality of postsecondary education; and 2) Provide a level of fiscal commitment commensurate with the responsibility of the state to the educational and professional improvement of its citizens

 

DEAD Senate Higher Ed
SB 5390 Provides incentive funding to institutions that demonstrate improvement on existing performance measures. Requires OFM to convene a “technical incentive funding model task force” to design an incentive funding model to support the incentive program. DEAD Senate Higher Ed
HB 1829 Restricts annual tuition increases for resident, undergraduates to no more than the rate of inflation through the 2018-19 academic year.

Removes the criteria for setting tuition relative to state funding and tuition at similar institutions in the Global Challenges states.

DEAD House Rules
 

VETERANS

 
SB 5318 Removing the one-year waiting period for veterans or active members of the military for purposes of eligibility for resident tuition. *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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