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.
Last Tuesday, February 20, alumni from all six of Washington’s baccalaureate institutions along with their Presidents and governing boards met in Olympia for the 2007 Higher Education Day and the timing could not have been better.
The planning for this year’s event was very strategic and focused on bringing a united voice of support for the Governor’s Washington Learns Initiative and increased funding for higher education tied to other similar institutions in the Governor’s “Global Challenge States.” With the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Education poised to release a draft budget for higher education, having UW alums meeting on-one-on with their own elected officials and reinforcing these principles was a dream come true for the University’s state relations team.
The day began with a legislative briefing conducted by President Mark Emmert and myself, giving alums an overview of the session and key speaking points that everyone could use when they met with their legislators in the afternoon. Immediately following the briefing, a luncheon was held at the Indian Summer Golf and Country Club where Governor Gregoire presented the Robert G. Waldo Award for outstanding contribution to public higher education to former Governor Booth Gardner. David Horsey, the two-time Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist for the Seattle P-I gave the keynote address.
After lunch, all higher education alums moved to the state capitol campus for a busy afternoon of meetings with legislators and catching portions of the many committee meetings that were happening. Mascots from all six schools were visible around the campus and in many buildings, mixing with lobbyists, staffers, visiting school children and even attending the six presidents media availability in the State Reception Room. The day ended with a wonderful reception in the Governor’s Mansion hosted by the Governor and her husband Mike Gregoire.
I would like to take this opportunity to express my heartfelt thanks to all who took time out of their busy schedules to come to Olympia and advocate for more funding for higher education and the UW in particular. Also, kudos to the super staff at the UW Alumni Association and the Office of State Relations who worked tirelessly over the past year to pull this successful event together.
As you can tell from the dearth of blog postings, this has been the most intense week of session yet. Between individual appointments with legislators to lobby our operating and capital budget proposals and a head spinning number of committee hearings on bills that both please and concern the University, I have hardly had much of a chance to sit down and take stock of where we are after six weeks in the session.
Budget issues continue to fair generally well, although we are still at least one month away from the next revenue forecast and the release of our first legislative budget proposal. Next week, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Education will release their budget recommendations for all educational sectors including higher education. The subcommittee will hold hearings on February 21 and two additional hearings on February 22. These are only advisory suggestions and will be forwarded to the full House Appropriations Committee for their consideration.
Much of our work this week on legislation deals with bills affecting personnel management and collective bargaining. Previous blog entries have discussed the implications of SB 5514 and HB 1875 and the UW remains opposed to both bills which are wrestling with the long-standing issue of a large number of parttime faculty in the two-year college system. We also continue to work with representatives from the Council of Presidents and PERC staffers on clarifying amendments to HB 1399 which would grant professional staff the ability to collectively bargain. Many thanks to Cheryl Cameron from the Provost’s office and Lou Pisano from Human Resources for coming to Olympia this week to testify and work on these issues.
Yesterday, Provost Phyllis Wise and special assistant Harlan Patterson testified on HB 1385 sponsored by Rep. Fred Jarrett (R-Mercer Island) which would establish a comprehensive strategic direction for higher education. Other academic officers from around the state praised the bill for taking a systemwide view of higher education looking at both funding needs and outcome measures.
UW athletic director Todd Turner made a rare visit to the state capital this afternoon for a meeting with state Senator Ken Jacobsen (D-Seattle). The senator has introduced a bill (SB 5571) which would establish a student athlete bill of rights. Of concern to the UW and other schools in the state is that the measure would in effect, prohibit the UW from participating in the NCAA or being a member of the PAC-10 conference. The bill will be heard in committee next week.
Have a great weekend. My next blog entry will preview the seventh week of the legislative session which includes the long-anticipated Higher Education Day celebration on February 20.
At a meeting of the Senate Ways and Means Committee on January 25, committee staff person Tim Yowell gave a presentation on higher education budget issues that has been getting rave reviews from legislators, staff and the broader higher education community.
Here’s a link to Tim’s presentation from the committee webpage. Even for the casual observer, it contains a wealth of comparative and historical information about Washington’s higher education system and many of the challenges budget writers will face this session.