Over the summer higher education leaders, institutions, and organizations have focused on implementation and planning of the multiple work groups, reports, and meetings that emerged from the work of the legislative session.
As a major signal that summer is at its end – Labor Day Weekend – here is a look at some of the work and next steps that will be highlights of much of this blog between now and the New Year.
Estimates suggest that the September Economic & Revenue Forecast could show a decline in state revenues of up to $1.5 billion. The August revenue report showed that new state tax-collections were $9.4 million less than was forecasted. The state currently has a reserve of approximately $162 million through June 2013 without taking into account the September 15 forecast.
In response to the decline in state revenues since June, the Governor asked all state agencies (including Evergreen) to prepare for possible reductions by submitting 5% first-priority reductions and a second 5% for a total of 10% reductions in state funding as part of each agency’s 2012 supplemental budget request.
If the September revenue forecast is as bad as it is rumored to be, the likelihood that a special session will be called prior to the 2012 supplemental session is good. If the Legislature is called back, budget writers have commented that if called back they would like to come up with a plan before returning to Olympia. This suggests the development of a plan in early fall with a rumored November date for a special session.
2012 Supplemental Session
The development and submittal of agency operating and capital budget requests for the 2012 supplemental session are underway. Evergreen along with other state agencies will submit its request, including the 5% and 10% budget reductions, by the end of September. Between September and November the Office of Financial Management will reveiw the requests. During this same time Evergreen and the other public, baccalaureate institutions will also provide their requests to the Higher Education Coordinating Board. In December the Governor will submit her proposped operating and capital budgets to the Legislature who will convene in early January.
Council of Higher Education
During the 2011 session Washington Legislature passed legislation that would eliminate the Higher Education Coordinating Board and create the Council of Higher Education. To establish the Council a higher education steering committee was identified in the legislation to be appointed by the Governor.
Over the next few months the steering committee will meet to determine the mission, scope, and membership of the Council of Higher Education. The steering committee will be chaired by Governor Gregoire and includes the following members:
- Senator Derek Kilmer
- Senator Randi Becker
- Representative Larry Seaquist
- Representative Larry Haler
- Jim Gaudino, President, Central Washington University
- Michael Young, President, University of Washington
- Gerald Pumphrey, President, South Puget Sound Community College
- Charlie Earl, Executive Director, State Board for Community & Technical Colleges
- Betty Hyde, Director, Department of Early Learning
- Garry Kipp, Executive Director, Assciation of Washington School Principals
- Jane Noland, Citizen
- Bill Robinson, Citizen
Over the next few months several legislative committee hearings are scheduled to discuss the budgetary and policy impacts of the 2011 session and to prepare for the 2012 supplemental session. The majority of legislative committees will not meet until December during Assembly Days.
Particular to higher education, the House Higher Education Committee will meet four times between September and November. Each meeting will take place in a different region of the state (Spokane, Ellensburg, Seattle, Olympia, and Skagit Valley). Each meeting will include participation by regional higher education institutions, presentations and panel discussions with a focus on ways to meet the state’s higher education needs.