The 30-day special session ended June 11 without an agreement reached on the state budget – including funding capital and transportation projects. In the last week, both the House and Senate passed revised budget proposals to move closer to a final agreement without any luck.
In a press conference Tuesday, the Governor called the Legislature back for a second special session beginning tomorrow, June 12, at 9 a.m. The Legislature has another 30 days to strike a budget deal; however, the timing is problematic with the June 30 end of the fiscal year. Discussions are shifting to contingency planning with the Governor’s office and state agencies to plan for a possible government shutdown if a budget isn’t passed by July 1.
Legislators still need to fund $1 billion in K-12, per the McCleary Supreme Court decision, pass legislation that allows the state to keep estate-tax refunds for education, and determine if tax exemptions will be closed or remain in place as part of additional state revenue sources. In addition, large-scale policy issues have emerged as priorities for some lawmakers – tougher DUI laws and adjusting the age limit on worker-compensation claim settlements, to name a few.
Impacts of recent budget proposals on CTCs
Higher education continues to be part of budget discussions as negotiations continue between the House and Senate. Here is a breakdown of the most recent budget proposals for community and technical colleges:
Last Thursday, the House passed a $33.6 billion budget; down from its previous $34.5 billion proposal passed in April:
· Bottom line: CTCs receive $2.5 million less compared to the original House proposal.
- Student Achievement Initiative: Funding for the Student Achievement Initiative is reduced from $10 million in the original House proposal to $7.5 million in the new House budget bill. However, the House revenue bill, PSHB 2034, provides an additional $2.5 million for the Student Achievement Initiative, bringing the funding back up to the original House proposed level.
- Funding for SB 5624: Adds $500,000 for SB 5624, which directs CTCs to work with OSPI to create new pathways for STEM education from K-12 through applied baccalaureate degrees. This funding was also included in the Senate proposal.
- Aerospace and STEM enrollments: As in the original House proposal, the new House proposal provides $3.9 million for Aerospace and STEM enrollments.
- Tuition: Tuition increase authority remains at three percent, as in the original House proposal.
- Other Fees: As in the original House budget, the new proposal provides colleges the authority to increase local fees (e.g., lab fees and administrative fees).
- Faculty Increment Funding: Not included in the new House budget bill is the language directing the colleges to use existing funds to award faculty increments. However, the new bill continues to authorize the use of turnover savings to pay for faculty increments.
- Uses of Restored Three Percent Compensation Decrease Funding: The new bill continues to allow restored funding for the 2011-13 biennium compensation decrease to be used for any purpose, including compensation increases.
- Funding for CTCs in Department of Commerce: As in the prior House proposal, the new House budget bill includes $4.85 million for Seattle Community Colleges allied health programs and related costs at a new community health care and education center at the Pacific Medical Center. The new proposal also includes $750K for the Water Center at Walla Walla Community College.
Over the weekend, the Senate passed a $33.3 billion proposal:
· Bottom line: Provides the same level of state funding as the previous Senate proposal for CTCs.
- Student Achievement Initiative: Continues to appropriate $26.8 million for the biennium in new state funding for the CTCs’ performance-funding model.
- Funding for SB 5624: Continues to assume $500,000 for SB 5624, which directs CTCs to work with OSPI to create new pathways for STEM education from K-12 through applied baccalaureate degrees. This funding was also included in the recent House proposal.
- Tuition: No additional tuition authority for the 2013-15 Biennium.
- Other Fees: As in the original Senate budget, the new proposal provides colleges the authority to increase local fees (e.g., lab fees and administrative fees).
- Faculty Increment Funding: The new bill continues to authorize the use of turnover savings to pay for faculty increments.
- Uses of Restored 3 Percent Compensation Decrease Funding: The new bill continues to allow restored funding for the 2011-13 biennium compensation decrease to be used for any purpose, including compensation increases.
· Part-time Employee Health Benefits: The new Senate bill continues to propose savings in Employee Health Benefit Contributions by moving part-time employees to the newly established Health Benefits Exchange.
The Bill Watch List has been updated with bills introduced during the special session and those that may still be considered during the regular session. Two bills of note for the CTC system are:
· SB 5941 prime-sponsored by Sen. Michael Baumgartner, R-Spokane, would decrease tuition by three percent and tie future tuition increases to the rate of inflation. SB 5941 is currently in Senate Rules.
· SB 5942 also prime-sponsored by Sen. Baumgartner, creates a performance and enrollment-based minimum funding method. This bill also recognizes the Student Achievement Initiative as the performance funding model for the CTCs, creates new performance requirements for other higher education institutions, and provides for additional tuition authority if minimum base funding levels aren’t met. SB 5942 is currently in Senate Rules.
Legislative News will be published during the second special session as committee hearings are scheduled and decisions are made that have an impact on the community and technical college system.