What do aerospace training, high-demand jobs and a special legislative session have in common? Community and technical colleges!
While legislators gathered in a surprise special session this week to support Washington’s aerospace industry, more than 200 community and technical college students gathered in Olympia to learn about the legislative process and how to communicate with lawmakers. Below are highlights from this very busy, very productive week.
Special legislative session
A three-day special session came to a close on Saturday, Nov. 9 with new legislation to advance Washington’s position as a world leader in aerospace. Two workforce bills were approved to help secure Boeing production of the 777x here in Washington and support the thousands of other employers who build our state’s aerospace industry. Gov. Inslee signed both bills into law at on Monday, Nov. 11.
House Bill 2088, unanimously passed in both the House and Senate, provides additional enrollments and facility space for aerospace training. The bill includes:
· $8 million for an additional 1,000 full-time equivalent students in the 2014-15 school year. SBCTC and the Aerospace and Advanced Materials Manufacturing Pipeline Advisory Committee will collaborate in determining training locations to ensure programs are connected with industry needs.
· $500,000 to develop a fabrication composite wing training program for current aerospace workers at the Washington Aerospace Training and Research Center (WATR) operated by Edmonds Community College. In addition, $1.5 million in capital funds will be used to modify the WATR Center and purchase specialized equipment.
· $5 million in capital funds will be allocated to the Department of Commerce for the Renton Aerospace Training Center currently being developed by the City of Renton at the Renton Municipal Airport. Renton Technical College will train aerospace workers at this facility.
Marty Brown, SBCTC executive director, testified before the House Appropriations Committee in support of HB 2088 saying, “We very much appreciate the Governor’s confidence in our system’s proven ability to produce the quality workforce our state needs… Given this lead time, we will work to find enough quality faculty and staff to fill these highly technical positions and ensure we have the appropriate equipment to train our students…”
Larry Brown, Aerospace Machinists legislative and political director and SBCTC board member, also testified in support, “... The community and technical colleges is an outstanding investment… We have a window of opportunity to make these investments and get these folks there so they can replace people that will retire shortly. I urge your support for this investment in workforce training for aerospace.”
Others testifying in support included Larry Cluphf, Edmonds Community College WATR Center; Carol Weigand, Spokane Community College; and Alex Pietsch, Governor’s Office for Aerospace.
The Legislature also passed Senate Bill 5952 that extends aerospace tax preferences until 2040 and expands the sales and use tax exemption to construct new facilities for superefficient airplane manufacturing.
Marty Brown, SBCTC executive director testified in support of SB 5952, “We have 24 colleges designated as aerospace colleges; eleven of those are participants in the AIR Washington grant. Last year, system-wide, we granted nearly 6,000 degrees and certificates in 20 different aerospace-related fields… We appreciate your support…”
Others testifying in support include Larry Brown, Aerospace Machinists and SBCTC board member; Larry Cluphf, Edmonds Community College WATR Center; Carol Weigand, Spokane Community College; and Alex Pietsch, Governor’s Office for Aerospace.
Student Legislative Academy
Nov. 8-9 marked the annual Student Legislative Academy, where students from community and technical colleges across the state descend on Olympia to learn how to navigate the legislative process and set to work crafting an advocacy plan for their legislative agenda. Student priorities for the 2014 legislative session include funding and financial aid for undocumented students.
Marty Brown, SBCTC executive director, kicked off the two-day event with a legislative overview, along with Alison Grazzini Smith, SBCTC legislative director. Students also heard from industry panelists including Ricardo Sanchez, Latino Educational Achievement Project; Emily Murphy, OneAmerica; Marc Webster and Rachelle Sharpe, WA Student Achievement Council; Nick Lutes, SBCTC; John Boesenberg, SBCTC; and Karen Strickland, WA American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO.
Dr. Amy Morrison Goings, Lake Washington Institute of Technology president, shared successful advocacy strategies for meeting with legislators.
Tom Campbell, Green River Community College trustee, informed students about the important role of trustees and the collaborative approach necessary to advocate for the community and technical college system. Kim Tanaka, Trustees Association of Community and Technical Colleges administrator, also addressed students about the trustee confirmation process, how to engage trustees in outreach, and the importance of attending local board meetings.
During the busy special session, legislators stopped by to discuss the state of higher education and answer students’ questions. Representatives Ross Hunter, D-Bellevue; Larry Seaquist, D-Gig Harbor; Hans Zeiger, R-Puyallup; Chris Reykdal, D-Tumwater; and Drew Hansen, D-Bainbridge Island shared their views and brainstormed ways students can make their voices heard come January.
With the special session over, the House and Senate will shift gears and focus on Committee Days scheduled for November 21-22 in Olympia. An annual event, all House and Senate committees hold work sessions on various topics that may lead to legislation during the regular legislative session beginning January 13.
Legislative News will be published periodically as system-wide legislative activities and impacting community and technical colleges occur. It will be published multiple times each week during the start of the regular legislative session.