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News and Updates

Senate Republicans Name Committee Assignments

Senate Republicans announced their 2007 committee assignments on Thursday December 21 according to a press release issued by Republican leader Mike Hewitt (R-Walla Walla).

Joining four Senate Democrats (Sen. Paull Shin, Chair, Sen. Derek Kilmer, Vice Chair, Sen. Jean Berkey and Sen. Tim Sheldon) on the new Senate Higher Education Committee will be Sen. Jerome Delvin (R-Richland) and Sen. Mark Schoesler (R-Ritzville).  Although ranking members for each committee have not yet been selected, it is expected that Sen. Joe Zarelli (R-Ridgefield) will retain his ranking member status for the operating budget on the Senate Ways and Means Committee and that Sen. Dale Brandland (R-Bellingham) will continue as ranking member for the capital budget.

Governor Chooses New Deputy Chief of Staff

Governor Gregoire recently tapped Joyce Turner to replace Fred Olsen as her deputy chief of staff.  Olsen, who has been with Gregoire since her says as Director of Ecology under the Gardner administration is retiring.

Here’s more on the staff change from Adam Wilson, who writes a blog for The Olympian.

Governor’s Budget Strong for Higher Ed and the UW

Governor Gregoire released her nearly $30 billion budget Tuesday December 19, and it is very strong for higher education and particularly the University of Washington. It is clearly the best budget for the UW to emerge from the Governor’s Office in a decade and if enacted would be an exceptional start to closing the per student funding gap between us and our peer universities.

At yesterday’s press conference in Olympia, the Governor repeatedly referred to her spending plan as an “Education Budget” and a close look at the details easily backs up that claim.  There are sizeable new investments in early learning, K-12 and higher education in the operating budget and almost $2 billion in new capital spending including more than $1 billion for higher education construction projects. 

A two page summary of the Governor’s Budget proposal for the UW can be found in the Spotlight section of the State Relations home page.

If you want more detail on her overall spending plan, the Governor’s Budget Highlights are a good place to delve into the details.

Welcome to the State Relations Blog

Welcome to the new Office of State Relations Blog.  I intend to use this exciting new technology to communicate with you in a more timely and frequent manner about state government news and information, and to report on the University’s progress in achieving our goals and objectives during the upcoming 2007 legislative session.

A blog allows me to provide important information as it is happening rather than waiting until the end of the week or the month to publish in a traditional newsletter format.  If you are interested in how University interests are fairing in Olympia, check this blog frequently to stay abreast of key legislative hearings, bill progress, staff changes and budget updates. 

It is my intent to use this blog as my primary campus communications tool, so as of the first of the year, my office will cease on-line publication of the weekly and monthly “Capitol Updates.”  I will continue to maintain and update weekly, a list of “Bills of Significant Interest” to the University during the legislative session.  As my schedule permits, I will also try to make it back to campus at least twice a month for in person legislative briefings.

Thanks again for all you do to help support me and my team during the legislative session.  I’m excited about using this communications medium and hope you will provide me with feedback as I develop and perfect my “blogging” skills.  Thanks.

Governor Unveils Portion of Higher Ed Budget

At a press conference in Spokane this morning (which was attended by President Mark Emmert and other UW officials), Governor Christine Gregoire unveiled some significant portions of her higher education budget recommendations for the 2007-09 biennium.  The full budget proposal will be released on Tuesday December 19.

Speaking at the Washington State University – Spokane campus at Riverpoint, the Governor indicated she would include funding in her operating and capital budget proposals for the UW/WSU/EWU partnership to expand medical and dental education in Spokane and Eastern Washington.  Known as “Spokane WWAMI/RIDE,” the program will add 20 new medical students and 8 new dental students to the UW through a dedicated site in Spokane.

The WWAMI (Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho) program has been a great success in training doctors to serve in rural communities.  The RIDE (Regional Initiatives in Dental Education) is based on that model and will train dentists to help address the need for more qualified dentists in rural areas of the state.

The press release issued by the Governor’s office also described other aspects of the Governor’s higher education budget which will include:

  • Freezing tuition at community and technical colleges for the next two years and capping undergraduate tuition at 5% for the regional schools and 7% for the UW and WSU.
  • Providing new “high demand” enrollment slots and regional opportunity grants for job training.
  • Expanding the WSU Spokane Intercollegiate College of Nursing.

WSU Chooses New President

Washington State University (WSU) announced this morning the selection of Elson S. Floyd as the tenth president of WSU.  Floyd, who is currently president of the University of Missouri will succeed V. Lane Rawlins, who announced earlier this year that he would step down at president at the end of the current academic year.

Floyd has served as president of the University Missouri since November 2002.  Prior to that he served as president of Western Michigan University and has held several administrative positions at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  From 1993 to 1995, he was the executive director of the Washington State Higher Education Coordinating Board.

Here’s a story on Floyd from The Seattle Times.

Senate Higher Education Staff Changes

With the recent reorganization of the Senate and House of Representatives, a number of changes have been made that will affect staffing for higher education.

The creation of a separate Higher Education committee in the Senate, chaired by Sen. Paull Shin (D-Edmonds), has resulted in some committee staff assignment changes.  Susan Mielke, who had served as coordinator for the combined Early Learning, K-12 and Higher Education Committee will be assigned as coordinator for the new Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee to be chaired by Sen. Rosemary McAuliffe (D-Bothell).  Longtime Senate Judiciary committee counsel Aldo Melchiori has been selected to be the new lead staff person for the Higher Education Committee.

In the Senate Democratic Caucus, higher education policy counsel Heather Lewis-Lechner will relinquish her higher education responsibilities to focus on early learning, K-12 and government operations.  Her higher education staff replacement will be Mark Rosen who has previously served as caucus policy counsel for judiciary, government operations and elections.

Governor Announces Math and Science Initiative

Governor Gregoire plans to formally release her 2007-09 biennial budget proposal on Tuesday December 19.  During the next week, she will spend each day highlighting some of the most important aspects of her spending proposal.

Yesterday, she unveiled a $197 million math and science initiative at Garfield High School in Seattle.  Improving math and science education was a key strategy in her Washington Learns report.  Garfield High School was chosen as the site of the announcement because of an exciting new partnership in math education at the school between the UW College of Education, the UW Department of Mathematics and the Garfield High School math department.

Here’s a copy of the Governor’s press release unveiling her math and science education initiative.  On Thursday, the Governor will visit Spokane to talk about higher education.