With the start of the 105-day legislative session set to kick off next Monday, Jan. 14, the Associated Press held its annual forum featuring state legislators and decision-makers in Olympia today.
The big topics? Finding additional funding for basic education, the committee structure and leadership of the State Senate, and addressing the estimated $1 billion shortfall in the state budget.
As The News Tribune reports, despite disagreement between the Majority Coalition and Senate Democrats, some individual members of the Democratic caucus may still take State Senate committee chairmanships when session starts next week.
After legislators wrapped up their session preview, Gov-Elect Jay Inslee took the podium to announce several key appointments in his new administration, and to make brief remarks.
The Gov-Elect’s appointments are as follows:
Employment Security – Dale Peinecke
Labor & Industries – Joel Sacks
Retirement Systems – Marcie Frost
Veterans Affairs – Alfie Alvarado-Ramos
Department of Social and Health Services – Kevin Quigley
In terms of Higher Ed policy in the upcoming session, Gov-Elect Inslee outlined an effort he plans to launch to address STEM degree production, and other critical skill gaps.
Yesterday, Gov-Elect Inslee announced the appointment of his budget director.
According to the Transition Office, David Schumacher, a Husky alum and veteran of the Senate Ways & Means Committee, will take on the position at OFM.
Most recently, Schumacher served as executive director of the Council of Presidents, representing the six public university presidents, and through that position has become well-acquainted with higher education policy.
More from the Seattle Times:
Schumacher knows the state budget top to bottom and helped the Senate navigate the recession. “The Governor-Elect has given me clear direction to look for real, long-term solutions as we balance the budget and make state government more efficient,” Schumacher said in a statement.
You can watch today’s AP Legislative Preview in three hour-long episodes on the TVW website:
PART 1: Leadership panel discussion with Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom (D-Bellevue), House Speaker Frank Chopp (D-Seattle), Senate Democratic Leader Ed Murray (D-Seattle) and House Republican Leader Richard DeBolt (R-Chehalis).
PART 2: Budget funding panel discussion with State Sup’t Randy Dorn, State Rep. Ross Hunter (D-Medina), State Sen. Steve Litzow (R-Mercer Island), Chris Korsmo (CEO, League of Education Voters) and moderated by AP reporter Mike Baker.
Part 3: Conversation with Gov-Elect Jay Inslee.