State Relations

Lawmakers back in Olympia

It’s Legislative Assembly week and there will be no shortage of discussion about the state’s big shortage of cash. This marks the first time since the election and the most recent revenue forecast that lawmakers have gathered in Olympia for a full slate of committee hearings. Given the growing budget problems facing the state, the election winners may be wondering exactly what it was they won.

For higher education, the week will see hearings on higher education capital financing plans (including branch campuses), the higher education strategic plan, and performance measurement for higher ed. On Thursday, the Senate Natural Resources, Ocean and Recreation Committee has slated a hearing on forestry higher education.

Still, the big buzz in town this week will certainly be the recent revenue forecast, which increased the gap facing the state in the next biennium to over $5 billion, and has required additional cuts in the current biennium to make the books balance. Gov. Gregoire is preparing her budget proposal, and a recent article in the Seattle Times outlines the magnitude of the spending cuts being considered. “Ugly” is the most printable word being used to describe the choices facing budget writers this year.

Finally, some news from Ellensburg. Central Washington University has announced that James Gaudino, formerly of Kent State University, has been named the University’s new president, succeeding Jerilyn McIntyre, who retired after eight years in the job.