Three weeks into the legislative session and the calendar is already turning to February. The flurry of activity continued by COP staff with additional presentations, legislative meetings, and committee testimony. On Tuesday, Executive Director Paul Francis presented before the Senate Ways and Means Committee on Washington’s nationally recognized public four-year dashboard. Created in 2011 with the passage of House Bill 1795, the dashboard endorsed the ten progress and outcome metrics from the National Governors Association’s 2010 Complete to Complete initiative.
Following Mr. Francis, the presidents of CWU, EWU, Evergreen, UW, WWU joined the provost of WSU in discussing how recent state investments in STEM/high demand education and student success initiatives have helped to improve student access to those programs. Campus leaders also highlighted the need for stable and predictable long-term funding – as well as needed investments in the State Need Grant and other state student financial aid programs – which will help to meet workforce needs and close our skill gap. The presentation also provided an opportunity for campuses to highlight their 2017-19 operating and capital budget priorities.
Also on Tuesday COP held its legislative reception in Olympia. This annual event provides an opportunity for Washington state’s public baccalaureate leaders to thank policymakers for their support of postsecondary education as well as to promote current objectives to state leaders. COP Chair and WSU President Kirk Schulz thanked those in attendance for their support of higher education and noted the current collaboration between Washington’s public and private four- and two-year colleges and universities. In addition to members of the House and Senate, we were joined by leaders from myriad partner education agencies and organizations.
COP staff also testified on legislation in both the House and Senate related to student financial aid, student financial literacy, and student loan debt. The Senate Higher Education Committee also received an updated on the accreditation and admission timeline for WSU’s Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine as well as the UW’s WWAMI medical education program expansion in Spokane.
Committee action continues next week with work sessions in the Senate on student textbooks, teaching requirements for faculty, student loan debt, and trends in the cost of room and board. Hearings in both higher education committees will cover topics including student financial aid, for-profit college regulation, and workforce programs.
All our presentation materials and testimony are available online at: http://www.councilofpresidents.org/index-3_issues.html