Governor Releases Education Plan

Late yesterday Governor Inslee released his plan for education for the 2015-17 biennium. The plan, which extends across the continuum including early learning, K-12 and higher education, provides a $2.3 billion investment in the success of students from preschool to college.

In a statewide virtual town hall this evening, Governor Inslee shared the slate of education proposals.  The Governor’s budget would expand the state’s preschool program and provide $1.3 billion for basic education funding.  With regard to higher education, the Governor’s proposal:

  • Continues the current tuition freeze for resident, undergraduate students
  • Provides funding to meet increased demand for the state’s College Bound Scholarship program
  • Provides funding to meet the state’s contribution to the public-private Opportunity Scholarship program, which offers financial aid to qualified students in the STEM and health care fields
  • Expands advanced computer science and engineering programs at the research universities
  • Increases production of math and science graduates at the regional universities and Evergreen
  • Funds the Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement (MESA) program at the community colleges
  • Increases job training and basic education access at the community and technical colleges for adults without a high school diploma
  • Targets industry investments to add aerospace apprenticeships, operate the composite wing incumbent worker training program and offer maritime licensing training program at the community colleges.

The overview is part of a week long rollout of the Governor’s 2015-17 biennial budget.  On Tuesday the Governor will release details regarding transportation followed by climate change on Wednesday. The full budget will be released on Thursday morning.

WA House Democrats Announce Committee Leadership and Membership

This afternoon the Washington House Democrats announced committee chairs and vice chairs and membership for the upcoming session.

Representative Drew Hansen (Bainbridge Island) will chair and Representative Gerry Pollett (Seattle) will vice-chair the House Higher Education Committee.  Hansen and Pollett will be joined by Representatives Bergquist, Reykdal, Sells, Tarleton and the to-be-named representative of the 30th district.

In addition, Representative Hans Dunshee (Snohomish) will continue as chair of the House Capital Budget committee, Representative Ross Hunter (Medina) will chair the Appropriations committee, and Representative Reuven Carlyle (Seattle) will chair the Finance committee.

WA Senate Releases Committee Leaders and Committee Structure

This week the Washington State Senate released the committee structure for the 2015 session.  The committee structure will resemble the committees from the prior legislative session with the exception of a new committee.

The Senate Accountability and Reform Committee, to be chaired by newly elected Senator Mark Miloscia, will focus on issues involving the management of government including transparency, efficiency programs and strategic planning.

Committee leadership, in general, provides for continuity from last session. Senator Barbara Bailey will continue to chair the Senate Higher Education Committee.  In addition, Senator Andy Hill will Chair the Senate Ways & Means Committee and Senator Jim Honeyford will continue as Vice Co-Chair focusing on the capital budget.

Some of the changes for the 2015 session include:

  • Senator Michael Baumgartner will replace Senator Randi Becker as Vice Chair on Higher Education
  • Senator John Braun as Vice Co-Chair replacing Senator Michael Baumgartner and the addition of Senator Bruce Dammeier as Vice Chair with a focus on education finance
  • Newly-elected Senator Judy Warnick will replace Senator Brian Hatfield as chair of Agriculture, Water and Rural Economic Development
  • Senator Mike Baumgartner will replace former Senator Holmquist Newbry as Chair of Commerce and Labor
  • Senator Don Benton will replace the former Co-Chair structure of the Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee replacing Co-Chair Steve Hobbs and Senator Jan Angel will take on the role as Vice Chair
  • Senator Mark Miloscia will replace Senator Kirk Pearson as Vice Chair of Human Services and Corrections
  • Senator Brian Dansel will serve as Vice Chair for Natural Resources and Parks
  • Senator Sharon Brown will replace Senator John Braun as Chair of Trade and Economic Development and Senator John Braun will replace Senator Jan Angel as Vice Chair
  • Senator Joe Fain will join Transportation as Vice Chair for the transportation budget and Senator Don Benton as Vice Chair.


Governor’s Budget Out Next Week

Next week the Governor will roll out his biennial budgets over several days.

The week will kick-off with education. The Governor will make public his plans to make investments in education including early learning, K-12, and higher education.

Each following day the Governor will release additional parts of his proposed budget – Tuesday – transportation, Wednesday – climate change, and Thursday – the entire proposed biennial budget.

Reports suggest there are some things to watch for:

  • Major investments in early learning, kindergarten through high school, and STEM training
  • Investments to keep college affordable
  • New revenue

Stay tuned…

WA House Announces Committee Structure; Chairs and Committee Members to Follow

This week the House Democrats released a new committee structure for the 2015 session. The structure will eliminate, create and refocus committees.  Overall the number of committees will shrink from 23 to 21.

Gone are two of the three appropriation subcommittees on health and human services and education as well as the government accountability and oversight panel.

A new committee will make its debut this session the House Commerce and Gaming Committee. The Committee will consider issues related to commerce in alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana and issues relating to the regulation and oversight of gaming.

Finally some committees will see a change in focus.  The House State Government Committee will absorb the issues handled by the former Government Operations and Elections panel.  The Labor and Workforce Development Committee will be changed to the Labor Committee and workforce development issues will be absorbed by the House Higher Education Committee.  The former Appropriations Subcommittee on General Government will see a new title (General Government and Information Technology) and a revamped focus.

It is anticipated that the leaders and members of the House committees could be identified as early as this week in both the House and Senate. The Senate will also reveal its committee structure.

WA Student Achievement Council Releases Strategic Action Plan

Building on the work of the Council’s 2013 Roadmap report, the 2014 Strategic Action Plan outlines important and immediate steps to meet the state’s attainment goals by 2023:(1)  All adults in Washington, ages 25-44, will have a high school diploma or equivalent and (2) at least 70 percent of Washington adults, ages 25-44, will have a postsecondary credential.

The Action Plan sets forth seven recommendations:

  • Fulfill caseload requirements for the College Bound Scholarship
  • Protect maintenance-level funding for public two- and four-year institutions
  • Serve more State Need Grant-eligible students
  • Expand the reach of dual-credit opportunities
  • Support underrepresented students
  • Reinvest in State Work Study
  • Develop an affordability framework.

The funding and policy recommendations in this plan were developed with input from stakeholders across the sectors, including K-12, community and technical colleges, and public and private baccalaureate institutions. The recommendations also align with the Council’s 2013 Roadmap report.


WA Senate Majority Coalition Caucus Elects Leadership

Earlier this week the Majority Coalition Caucus (MCC) elected Senator Mark Schoesler as the Senate Majority leader. Schoesler previously served as Senate GOP leader.

The Caucus retained three top leaders from the prior session. Linda Evans Parlette of Wenatchee will remain caucus chair, Joe Fain of Auburn floor leader and Ann Rivers of La Center whip. In addition the MCC supported retaining Tim Sheldon (D) as the Senate’s president pro tempore a position elected by the full Senate.
Finally, the MCC made some changes to leadership:

  • John Braun was elected deputy leader, replacing Don Benton
  • Jan Angel was elected caucus vice chair, replacing Bruce Dammeier
  • Mark Miloscia was elected, replacing John Braun as deputy whip
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November Economic and Revenue Forecast Released

Last week the Washington State Economic and Revenue Forecast Council released the November revenue forecast.

The recent forecast shows an increase of $115 million in Near General Fund revenue for the current two-year budget.  Near General Fund collections are now projected to total $34.07 billion for the current biennium (2013-15).  In addition the forecast also projected a $275 million increase for the next biennium (2015-17); totaling $36.98 billion for 2015-17.

However the revenue forecast announced today, even with the increases, is insufficient to offset the costs of new caseload and enrollment projections announced earlier this year.

The Caseload Forecast Council projected Washington would have nearly 11,000 more K-12 students by the end of the next biennium. The council also projects the state will have 36,500 more Medicaid recipients than previously forecast as well as more children in foster care and more criminal offenders under community supervision.

Gov. Jay Inslee’s proposed 2015–17 budget will be released in December. The next revenue forecast will be released in March 2015.

WA House Republicans Elect Leadership

The Washington House Republicans elected their 2015-17 legislative leadership this past week..

House Republicans elected:

  • Representative Dan Kristiansen, Republican Leader
  • Representative Joel Kretz, Deputy Leader
  • Representative Shelly Short, Caucus Chair
  • Representative J.T. Wilcox, Floor Leader
  • Representative Paul Harris, Whip
  • Representative Matt Shea, Assistant Floor Leader
  • Representative Matt Manweller, Assistant Floor Leader

Additional leadership positions are expected to be announced in the coming weeks.

House Democrats Keep Current Leadership

There will be little change this session in the leadership of the Washington House Democratic Caucus.

House Democrats elected their leadership team this week:

  • Representative Frank Chopp – House Speaker
  • Representative Pat Sullivan – Majority Leader
  • Representative Eric Pettigrew – Majority Caucus Chair
  • Representative Kevin Van De Wege – Majority Whip
  • Representative Kris Lytton – Majority Floor Leader

Lytton is the only change from the 2013 Legislature. She replaces former Representative Tami Green who vacated her seat in an unsuccessful bid for the District 28 Senate seat this year.

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