The 61st Legislature convened last week for the last time before the regular session begins in January. Capitol campus was buzzing with activity as representatives, staff, lobbyists and interest groups packed parking lots and committee hearing rooms to start the very difficult conversation of governance in 2010.
Part of that discussion is with the Higher Education Coordinating Board (HECB), which recently completed Tuition and System Design studies for submittal to the legislature. At a November 19 meeting at Renton Technical College, representatives from the public institutions of higher learning asked for more input in the tuition policy report, and met last week to draft a new proposal. The contents will push for a higher commitment from the State of Washington to fund higher education and improve access to all students.
Paramount in this process is the conversations between stakeholders and decision makers, and on Thursday several lawmakers attended a presentation and breakfast organized by the United Faculty of Washington State and Washington Student Association. Also in attendance were representatives from K-12 and a handful of Evergreen students. Suggestions were solicited on how to deal with the challenge of the budget crisis, and legislators offered creative solutions. The discussion also centered around how to keep Washington competitive in the larger higher education community.
On Friday Evergreen Provost Don Bantz testified in front of the House of Representatives Committee on Higher Education on the HECB’s System Design study. Don was part of the work group that created the study, and he emphasized Evergreen’s unique position among state institutions while speaking highly to the content and quality of the report.
Assembly Days wrapped up just in time for Governor Gregoire’s press conference this morning in which she proposed the first of the several budgets the State of Washington will consider in the coming months.