SB 5384, the Senate version of the UW’s request legislation to expand our ability to issue long term debt locally easily cleared the State Senate yesterday 46-0. There was no debate or opposition to the measure which now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration following floor cut-off next week. The House version of the debt authority bill (HB 1398) is already in the Senate Ways and Means Committee.
Monday was the deadline for Senate and House fiscal committees to move bills from their chamber of origin which are not deemed “necessary to implement the budget.” This means that many of the bills we have been tracking as a University are now considered “dead” for the 2007 legislative session.
To see which bills have survived the cut-off, check out the Bills of Significant Interest link in the Spotlight section. I have recently updated the status of each piece of legislation along with any revised UW positions on the bills.
While I don’t have time to go through a complete list of all the bills that didn’t make it out of committee, I will try and highlight some of the more important bills we have been tracking that are no longer viable.
SB 5514 and HB 1875 would have included the UW and other four year schools in a detailed study of compensation and personnel practices tied to the long-standing problems of part-time community and technical college faculty. These bills did not pass out of their respective policy committees. Much of the substance of SB 5514 was included in SB 5020 which did pass out of the Senate Labor, Commerce and Research Committee but died Monday in the Senate Ways and Means Committee.
SB 5322 which would have required OFM to identify sites and develop programs for a new four year university in Snohomish-Island-Skagit county died in the Senate Ways and Means Committee. Sen. Jean Berkey, the prime sponsor of the measure has indicated she will try to secure the funding that was included in this bill in the Senate budget which will be unveiled at the end of March.
SB 5013 which would have imposed a limit on all tuition increases of no more than 5.5% died in the Senate Ways and Means Committee. A bill to establish the Washington Institute of Technology by combining branch campuses in Vancouver, Bothell and Tri-Cities died in the House Higher Education Committee. Bills to establish preferences for veteran-owned businesses in state contracting did not pass by the established deadlines.
Finally, a bill which would have transferred responsibility for the Wellington Hills property to the Department of General Administration for the purpose of selling the land died in the House Capital Budget Committee.
Yesterday during the cut-off hearing in the Senate Ways and Means Committee, Senator Joe Zarelli (R-Ridgefield) successfully hung an amendment on a measure which would make a new life sciences research entity in Spokane area potentially eligible for Life Sciences Discovery Fund monies.
SSB 5616 would create a health sciences and services authority in Spokane with the intention of using the Institute for Systems Medicine to expand health sciences research and biotechnology development in the area. Funding is intended to come from the state general fund in the form of a state tax diversion of approximately $5 to $6 million per year.
The Zarelli amendment would instead permit funding for the authority to come from the Life Sciences Discovery Fund instead of the state general fund. The problem this creates is that the Fund (which is estimated to be about $35 million per year beginning in 2008), is intended to be competitive and awarded to the most meritorious projects as determined through a peer review process. The amendment potentially creates ambiguity about whether the Fund would be used to fund the ongoing operational costs of a new research entity as opposed to a being solely available for competitive research proposals.
As a member of the Life Sciences Fund Coalition, the UW is concerned about this amendment to SSB 5616 and will work with other coalition partners to insure that the Life Sciences Discovery Fund remains available for competitive research project funding.
I’m heading out of town for a couple of days to visit some old friends in California so blogging will be sparse until next week. Have a great weekend.
Today is the 52nd day of the legislative session, the official halfway point for 2007 and the first real cut-off deadline for standing committee action. After today, Senate and House policy committees cannot take action on measures from their chamber of origin. This is “parliamentary speak” for “if it isn’t out of a policy committee by today, it’s dead for this session.”
Of particular interest to the UW are progress of the Governor’s higher education Washington Learns bills which are SB 5806 (Schoesler) and HB 1882 (Wallace). Both of these measures designate the Global Challenge States as the benchmarks for measuring per student funding progress for institutions of higher education and create a multi-year plan for increasing both state appropriations and tuition (up to 7% per year for resident undergraduates) to close competitive funding gaps. The bills also establish new financial aid scholarship programs and expand eligibility under the State Need Grant program.
SB 5806 easily cleared the Senate Higher Education Committee on February 20 and will be heard in the Senate Ways and Means Committee tomorrow. HB 1882 passed out of the House Higher Education Committee on Monday of this week, but on a party line vote of 6-3. It has now been referred to the House Appropriations Committee where it could be scheduled for a hearing this weekend.
The UW has also been working to amend itself out of legislation dealing with the problems of parttime faculty members in higher education – a problem more pronounced in the two year college system. The House version of this bill, HB 1875 did not pass out of the House Higher Education Committee. In the Senate, SB 5514 did not pass out of the Senate Higher Education Committee when they ceased meeting last week. However, the substance of that measure was amended onto SB 5020 and passed out of the Senate Labor, Commerce and Research Committee yesterday afternoon. The measure was sent to the Senate Ways and Means Committee and the UW continues to oppose the measure.
To keep track of the progress of legislation of interest to the University, check out the link under my website Spotlight section on Bills of Significant Interest.
The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Education met tonight to act on their proposed 2007-09 operating budget recommendations for early learning, K-12 and higher education.
As expected, the budget recommendations cleared the committee on a party line vote. The recommendations will now be formally considered by the full committee as they finalize their budget recommendations over the next several weeks.
The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Education released their operating budget recommendations today at a 12:15 p.m. press conference in Olympia. Committee chair Rep. Kathy Haigh (D-Shelton) was joined by several of her House Democratic colleagues including Rep. Ruth Kagi, Rep. Joe McDermott, Rep. Pat Sullivan, Rep. Deb Wallace, Rep. Dave Quall, Rep. Sharon Tomiko Santos and Rep. Helen Sommers for the unveiling of the $17.4 billion spending proposal covering early learning, K-12 and higher education.
For the University of Washington, the budget news was very good. The committee budget recommendations generally followed Governor Gregoire’s December outline, with funding included for compensation increases, additional enrollments (including additional high demand slots and expansion of UW Tacoma and UW Bothell), support for global health, the Spokane WWAMI/RIDE expansion and a number of other items.
The major policy difference was the subcommittee’s decision to limit tuition increases for resident undergraduates at the UW to 5% per year instead of the 7% per year recommended by the Governor. The subcommittee budget, however, did include an additional $6.1 million in state funding to “make-up” for the additional revenue that will be lost due to 2% lower tuition level.
The subcommittee will take public testimony on this budget proposal at 8:00 a.m. tomorrow morning. They will vote on the recommendations at an 8:00 p.m. hearing tomorrow night. The recommendations will be forwarded to the full House Appropriations Committee which will unveil their 2007-09 biennial budget recommendations in mid to late March.
The next three days here in Olympia will feature round the clock hearings as standing policy committees in the House and Senate scramble to pass legislation before their Wednesday Februrary 28 5:00 p.m. deadline. Unless it is related to the state budget, most bills that do not pass by this date are considered dead for the 2007 legislative session.
Against this backdrop, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Education is expected to release its early learning, K-12 and higher education budget recommendations at a press conference during the lunch hour today.
As soon as we have specific information on these budget recommendations we will post detail on the Capitol Update Blog.
HB 1398 which is the UW’s request legislation to expand our local borrowing authority passed the full House of Representatives this morning 93-1 which four members excused. The House bill will now be referred to the Senate for consideration. SB 5384, which is the Senate companion measure should be acted on by the full Senate sometime next week.
Much of my time this past week has been spent meeting with various legislators on the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Education to help them better understand the policy rationale for the Washington Learns recommendations to use what are called Global Challenge States for higher education funding benchmarks.
For many years, per student funding for the UW has been measured against a set of 24 peer institutions referred to as the “HECB 24.” These schools were selected almost 20 years ago to help guide legislative budget decisions to improve per student funding, but were essentially abandoned during the economic downturn in 1993-95. Since that time, higher education budgets have not been constructed with per student funding improvements in mind.
The Washington Learns effort recognized the need to take a fresh look at the existing peer groupings in order to be able to justify a renewed interest in improving per student funding for higher education institutions. Instead of choosing similar institutions to the UW as has been done in the past, the consultants recommended selecting other states that like Washington, were ranked highly in their potential to complete in the new knowledge-based global economy.
The top eight states in what is called the New Economy Index (Connecticut, California, New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts, Washington, Virginia and Colorado) became the Washington Learns Global Challenge States. Peer institutions were identified within each of these states and then per student funding comparisons were made. As most of us know by careful reading of this blog, per student funding for the UW ranks near the bottom of this institutional grouping and about $3,700 per student below the 60th percentile benchmark recommended by Washington Learns.
A number of House members expressed reservations this past week about the global challenge states and the logic and rationale behind their selection. Some of the concern is based upon the fact that not every elected official had an opportunity to participate fully in the 18 months of Washington Learns meetings in which these issues were thoroughly discussed and debated. Other concerns have more to do with the choice of states as comparisons rather than the individual institutions within them, while others are resistent to changing the existing HECB 24.
The importance of the Global Challenge State benchmarks to the University is the critical need to improve per student funding in order to maintain our competitiveness and improve the overall quality of our educational offerings. Establishing these in statute will also insure that the legislature has a long term framework to guide their budget allocation decisions. I’ll keep you posted on this issue in the coming weeks as budget proposals are finalized in the House and Senate.