State Relations

January 21, 2013

Today in Olympia: Capital Budget, Operating Budgets, State Need Grant, College Bound, and GET

Welcome to Week 2 of the 105-day legislative session.

Clearing the fog of what’s happening in Olympia this week, we turn to Crosscut for a succinct treatment of legislative affairs:

For those new to the Legislature, committees are where shy new bills go to introduce themselves. After being read for the first time to the whole House (or Senate, for Senate bills), bills are sent to committees depending on their subject. Once in committee, bills are presented to committee members, who decide whether to send them on for review by the larger group — or nip them in the bud.

Turning to Higher Ed, interested parties from around the state came before the House Committee on the Capital Budget to give testimony on HB 1089, the 2013-2015 capital budget.

UW’s Director of State Relations Margaret Shepherd provided  testimony on the university’s priority capital projects. Watch the testimony here.

This afternoon, the Senate Ways & Means Committee held a Work Session on Higher Education. Committee members received an overview of the Higher Education Operating Budget, State Need Grant and College Bound program, Guaranteed Education Tuition (GET) Program, and heard perspectives from Higher Ed stakeholders – including UW. Senators had a chance to ask the public four-year universities about the $225 million reinvestment proposal to freeze undergraduate tuition for two years.

In related news, the Seattle Times reported this weekend that the College Bound program has been more successful in sending low-income students to four-year colleges than expected.

Here’s how the program works, per the Times:

Middle-school students sign a pledge to keep at least a C average, stay out of legal trouble and apply for college and financial aid. Low-income students already can get substantial financial aid from the state and federal government and from private sources. College Bound also gives students up to $500 a year for books. Grants do not need to be repaid.

College Bound is one of the programs that UW undergrads participating in the Dream Project are helping spread the word about through mentoring students in Seattle-area high schools. In 2012-13, 713 College Bound students became Huskies.

Tomorrow, the House Higher Education Committee will begin hearings on “The Higher Education Needs of Industry.”

For an early perspective on that topic, last week Richard Fabian (VP of Imaging Systems Marketing at Philips) testified before the House Technology & Economic Development Committee.

Responding to a question from the Chair, Mr. Fabian noted the crucial importance of the University of Washington to its presence in the state. Watch the testimony here.