Several weeks ago we noted that Rep. John Lovick (D-Mill Creek) was planning a run for Snohomish County Sheriff this November. Lovick is a retired Washington State Patrol officer and a familiar face to TVW watchers as he serves as President Pro Tempore of the House of Representatives and is therefore, often the chamber’s presiding officer.
As Everett Herald columnist Jerry Cornfield writes in Sunday’s edition, the jockeying for Lovick’s seat has already begun. Three Democratic activists are working hard to gather support for an appointment should Lovick win the county sheriff’s race this fall. The three are former Snohomish Mayor Liz Loomis, Snohomish County Democratic Party Chairman Mark Hintz and 2006 state senate candidate Lillian Kaufer who lost in the primary last September to Steve Hobbs who went on defeat incumbant Sen. Dave Schmidt in November.
Under state law, if Lovick wins, the Snohomish County Council will choose a successor from among three names given to them by the district’s Democrats. The person would then need to stand for election in November 2008.
Now that the future fiscal fortunes of the UW have been statutorily linked to the 60th percentile of per student funding in the Global Challenge States, it probably makes some sense to periodically peak in on how things are going for our higher education university brethren in California, Virginia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Colorado, and Connecticut.
To that end, I have posted a new report under the Spotlight section of the State Relations website titled “Global Challenge State Update.” The goal of this report, which I intend to update quarterly, is to provide UW officials and others with a quick and “easy to digest” sense of how our competitor institutions are faring in obtaining funding from their respective Governors and state legislatures.
I hope you will find this report interesting and valuable.
Yesterday I attended the annual Technology Alliance luncheon at the Washington Convention and Trade Center. The luncheon is the Alliance’s major function each year and more than 1,000 folks from business, government and education were in attendance.
The keynote address was given by Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer in a conversational discussion format lead by the UW’s Ed Lazowska. While most of us were settling into our chairs and trying to decide how much of our dessert we were going to actually eat, Ballmer got everybody’s attention with his pointed response to Ed’s question about what state government should be doing to help grow the technology industry in Washington State.
“Education, education, education, education” boomed Ballmer as he physically turned to address the assembled throng. Ballmer went on to bemoan the state’s lack of sufficient four-year degree capacity and while he did note Microsoft’s frustration about transportation issues in Puget Sound, he made it crystal clear that at the end of the day, the most important issue to the company was education.
The message from Ballmer was so clear and passionate, that today’s Seattle Times story about the lunch is titled “If Steve Ballmer were governor…..” More than a few folks who attended the lunch remarked to me on the way back to the garage, “How much did you guys have to pay him to say those things about higher education?”
Nothing of course, but it’s always nice to be appreciated.
State and local transportation leaders held a press conference in Seattle yesterday to announce a comprehensive funding strategy to pay for the SR 520 bridge replacement project without the need to raise new “state” taxes. The strategy was prepared as part of the Regional Transportation Improvement District (RTID) planning committee efforts to prepare a transportation package to be submitted to the voters in the November 2007 general election.
The funding strategy which estimates bridge replacement costs between $3.3 and $4.4 billion consists of $1.5 to $1.9 billion in so-called “committed funds” from existing federal and state sources and $1.8 to $2.6 billion in “policy choices” which could come from a combination of RTID investments contained in the November ballot initiative; a $6 round trip toll on the re-built bridge and other options.
According to RTID the funding strategy raises sufficient funding to pay for a six-lane bridge replacement (four general purpose lanes and two HOV lanes), the Pacific Interchange design option and improvements from the lake shore to I-405 and I-5. It is unclear how the funding strategy would accomodate community mitigation that is likely to result from the 18-month mediation process established in legislation enacted this past session, and which should be underway by the end of the month.
Like many of you, I was shocked to read the news of Norm Maleng’s passing in the morning papers. For those of us in public service in Washington State, Norm was the epitome of professionalism and intergrity in a business that often fails to adequately reward either trait. I just thought Norm would go on forever and serve as King County’s prosecuting attorney for many more years.
I got a chance to work closely with him in 1990 when I was on the staff of the Senate Ways and Means Committee in Olympia. Norm was named chair of a task force formed in the wake of a horrendous crime committed by a recently released sex offender and emotions in the state capitol were running high. In his deliberate and thorough manner, he wisely steered a large group of elected officials, community leaders and citizens through some very rough waters and emerged with a consensus package of legislation that sailed through a divided legislature unanimously.
I learned a lot from him about the importance of staying calm in the heat of the moment and not allowing passionate emotions to cloud your judgement about the fairness of one option over another. He was truly one of the “good guys” in Washington State politics and he will be sorely missed.
For the past several years, the city of Bellingham has been discussing the future of their waterfront. Up until recently, the waterfront was underutilized and dominated by an old Georgia Pacific mill site that virtually sat at the apex of downtown Bellingham and the picturesque Bellingham Bay. At the same time, student demand for access to Western Washington University has rivaled that of the University of Washington while the campus faces many of the same geographic challenges to expansion that confront the UW’s Seattle campus.
In the recently enacted biennial budget, the state legislature provided an additional $1 million to Western to facilitate continued planning for a potential expansion of the campus to the Bellingham waterfront. While there is still much to be decided about the final design of the waterfront redevelopment project, many local leaders are excited about the possibility of the university having a physical presence along the waterfront.
The most talked about expansion option has been relocation of Western’s Huxley College of the Environment to the old Georgia Pacific mill site. There has also been some discussion that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration might be interested in locating some of its vessels and facilities to the area. The Bellingham Herald recently editorialized in favor of the expansion and the state legislature appears interested in moving the university’s expansion planning to the next level.
For those of you wanting to learn more about Western’s possible waterfront expansion plans, here’s a link to President Karen Morse’s homepage that discusses the potential options in more detail.
Governor Gregoire signed an executive order today that creates the “P-20 Council” called for in the November 2006 Washington Learns final report. The council will be primarily responsible for driving progress towards all of the ten-year education goals proposed in the report. The council is also charged with improving student success and transitions within and among early learning, K-12 and higher education sectors.
Members of the new P-20 Council include:
- The Governor or designee
- Superintendent of Public Instruction, or designee
- Director of the Department of Early Learning
- Chair of the State Board of Education
- Chair of the Professional Educator Standards Board
- Chair of the Higher Education Coordinating Board
- Chair of the Workforce Training and Education Coordinating Board
- Chair of the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges
- Chair of the Council of Presidents
- Chair of the Independent Colleges of Washington
- One representative of tribal education programs from a federally recognized tribe, appointed by the Governor
A persistent rumor that raced through the hallways of the state capitol during the last few weeks of the 2007 legislative session was the notion that Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown (D-Spokane) might be contemplating a run for State Treasurer in 2008. Mike Murphy, the incumbant State Treasurer has indicated he will not run again when his third term expires next year.
If you’re wondering why the most powerful politician in the state Senate would consider leaving for an elected office that is arguably lower profile than many other posts, Northwest News Network political reporter Austin Jenkins speculates how such a move could lead to the Governor’s mansion in 2012 in today’s story from Crosscut, the Pacific NW online newspaper.
In short, serving as State Treasurer would raise Brown’s statewide political profile enough to propel her towards a run for Governor in 2012 (Gregoire, if re-elected, has indicated she would only serve two terms). Brown seems reluctant to make the move, but it’s clear she is being asked to seriously consider the notion.
It’s always easy to fall into the trap that a legislative session ends when the gavel falls on Sine Die. But Olympia veterans know that while state legislators, lobbyists and staffers may have left town quicker than the Husky varsity 8 at the Pac-10 crew championships, there are hundreds of bills (including the budgets) that must receive the Governor’s signature before they actually become law.
Last Tuesday May 15, Governor Gregoire completed action on the remaining bills from the 2007 session, including the biennial operating, capital and transportation budgets. Although each budget was signed with partial vetoes, none of those vetoes affected resources to be received by the University. In addition to the budget measures, the Governor also signed several other important bills including the new state rainy day fund (which must be approved by the voters this November); repeal of the state’s “gain sharing” pension benefit, and a measure supported by the UW to extend our authority for alternative public works contracting.
The Governor also signed into law SB 6099 which establishes a mediation process for the State Route 520 expansion project. This measure creates a mediation process fo resolving concerns regarding community impacts caused by the bridge replacement. Two sections of the bill were vetoed; one permitting the mediator to conduct an independent review of alternative options impacting the portion of the bridge that passes through the Arboretum and the section prohibiting on-site construction on the bridge until a final financing plan is prepared.
And for those of you who like to plan ahead, the 2008 legislative session begins in 242 days.
While this is the off year for state election campaigns, many local elected offices are open and two more state legislators have expressed an interest in running for a local seat.
In Snohomish County, councilmember Kirke Sievers is required to leave office at the end of this year after serving three terms as the representative from District 2 (Everett and Mukilteo). Rep. Brian Sullivan (D-Mukilteo) has already announced his intention to run for Sievers seat and recently, Senator Jean Berkey (D-Everett) has thrown her hat in the ring. The candidate filing period is June 4 – 8.
Sullivan is currently chair of the House Agriculture and Natural Resources committee and is in his fourth term in the House. Berkey is chair of the Senate Financial Institutions and Insurance committee and has been in the state legislature since 2001 and the Senate since 2004.
Sullivan and Berkey are the latest state legislators to indicate they will run for a local office. Rep. John Lovick (D-Mill Creek) has previously announced his intention to run for Snohomish County Sheriff.