Monday, July 1, 2013

Legislature adjourns; governor signs budgets

It’s over! The state Legislature adjourned Saturday night, bringing an end to six months of work and tense budget negotiations that raised fears of a government shutdown. Gov. Jay Inslee quickly signed the 2013-2015 operating and capital budgets, sending a wave of relief through Olympia – until the Legislature reconvenes in January.

Operating budget

After years of debilitating budget cuts, higher education fared well in the 2013-2015 operating budget, particularly considering the Legislature had to solve a $1.2 billion budget deficit and add $1 billion to K-12. The budget drew applause from 2-year and 4-year institutions alike.
“Our 34 community and technical colleges will pay back this investment many times over by providing the real-world training and education students need and employers demand,” said Marty Brown, SBCTC executive director. “As the economy continues to rebound, we urge lawmakers to continue this positive momentum. All Washingtonians benefit when graduates bring their skills and purchasing power to our shared economy.”
Highlights for CTCs include:
· State funding level: Overall, state funding increased from $585 million in the current fiscal year (FY 2013) to $638 million in FY 14 and $637 million in FY 15. This is a 9 percent increase over current year levels.
· Tuition: Resident tuition was frozen for the 2013-2014 academic year. For the 2014-15 academic year, the State Board may decrease, increase, or make no change to tuition levels. If the State Board increases tuition, colleges must put more money into financial aid.
· Institutional support: The Legislature invested state dollars to help replace the revenue potentially generated by a tuition increase. The budget includes $18.5 million in new money each year ($37 million total) for “additional institutional support” with no additional legislative requirements attached.
· Student Achievement Initiative: $5.25 million each year ($10.5 million total) was provided for the Student Achievement Initiative.
· Restoration of one-time reductions: $9 million per year was provided to partially restore general reductions taken in the 2011-13 biennium.
· Restoration of 3 percent reduction in compensation costs: $15 million each year was provided to restore the 3 percent reduction in compensation costs taken in the 2011-13 biennium.
· Legislative enrollment target: No change from current target of 139,237.

Individual legislator requests include:
· $200,000 for expanded duties for the Aerospace Center of Excellence at Everett.
· $362,000 for an internet technology integration program at the Opportunity Center at North Seattle.
· $510,000 for the Vigor maritime training center at South Seattle.
· $500,000 to implement SB 5624 calling for two coordinated STEM or career technical education bachelor’s degrees of the CTC system’s choosing.
· $4.8 million was included in the Department of Commerce budget to “establish and operate a community health care, education and innovation center at the Pacific Hospital in Seattle. Funds must be used for lease, maintenance, operations, and other related expenses for Seattle community colleges’ allied health programs and other uses identified by the department.”
A side-by-side comparison shows the final operating budget compared with earlier versions.

Capital budget

The 2013-2015 capital budget funds every project requested by the CTC system in priority order, down to but not including construction of Olympic College Instruction Center.
· Major construction projects were funded 11 percent to 16 percent below the requested levels, which is right in the middle of the previous House and Senate proposals.
· Major design projects were reduced 6 percent to 43 percent, similar to the previous House proposal.
· Minor program improvement projects are funded at 15 percent below the requested levels.
· The capital budget authorizes all alternatively financed projects and a long-term lease for Spokane as requested.
· The building fee appropriations are consistent with the revenue expected without a tuition increase.
A comparison shows the final operating budget compared with earlier versions.

Future editions

Legislative News will be published as legislative-related information regarding CTCs arises. Stay tuned!