Yesterday Governor Gregoire signed into law the early action budget passed by the Legislature last week. She vetoed a single proviso that directed the Department of Social and Health Services to maintain the physical plant and protect state assets at the closed Maple Lane School.
The budget implements a variety of state funding reductions, transfers and delayed payments to reach roughly $480 million in savings. The early budget action by the Legislature reduces the state’s budget shortfall to approximately $900 million with plans to also set aside approximately $600 million in a reserve for the remainder of the biennium. This leaves nearly $1.5 billion for the Legislature to solve when they return in January.
Upon signing the budget bill the Governor asked lawmakers to give her a timeline on when they expect to resolve the remainder of the budget shortfall. She is asking lawmakers to find a solution early in the new year. Budget writers in Olympia have shared that work continues on the budget with consensus building on other areas to cut and several work groups forming around smaller projects within the budget.
In addition to the budget legislation, Governor Gregoire signed into law several policy bills that were passed by the Legislature during the special session. Among the bills signed into law three were education related and together would do the following:
- Establish grant programs for high schools to prepare students for jobs as entry-level aerospace assemblers; for skills centers to enhance manufacturing-skills programs; and for high schools to create specialized courses in science, technology, engineering and math.
- Require the Professional Educator Standards Board to revise certification and certificate-renewal standards for elementary teachers and secondary science and math teachers to include knowledge and skills in science, technology, engineering, and math.
- Allow Project-Lead-the-Way examinations to be included in the list of college-level proficiency exams that are recognized as a method for fulfilling postsecondary courses. Project-Lead-the-Way is a national organization that provides curriculum in science, technology, engineering, and math for middle and high schools.