Week 10: Under the Dome

There is plenty of green in the air today to mark the annual celebration of St. Patrick’s Day. Policymakers will continue to focus on the color green next week when the Senate is set to release its 2017-19 budget proposal, followed by the House proposal the following week.

Legislative policy committees were busy this week holding hearings on bills that have passed out of their chamber of origin. March 29 is the deadline for bills in those committees to pass out in order to receive further consideration. Check out COP’s bill tracker for additional information.

On Thursday COP staff presented to the Senate Higher Ed Committee on how CWU, EWU, Evergreen, WSU, and WWU prepare students for successful careers in STEM and other high demand programs. Details of the presentation are available at: http://www.councilofpresidents.org/index-3_issues.html. Highlights include:

  • Over the last decade the percentage of STEM/high demand degrees awarded as a percentage of the total by the public baccalaureates increased by 10% — from 27% to 37%.
  • By 2018 70% of STEM jobs in Washington will require a bachelor’s degree or more.
  • 91% of WWU graduates report being employed within 6 months of graduation with 61 percent employed in their field of study.
  • Accredited in October 2016, the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine is on track to admit its charter class of 60 medical students this fall, with classes beginning on August 17.
  • 26% of total degree seeking undergraduates at Evergreen are enrolled in high-demand science curriculum.
  • Over 130 companies and organizations have sponsored EWU interns.
  • CWU’s Information Tech and Administrative Management program maintains a 100% job placement rate.

Following COP’s presentation, UW Dean of Engineering Michael Bragg and Professor of Computer Science and Engineering Ed Lazowska provided an update on the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering. Highlights include:

  • The UW produces more than 50% of the engineering graduates in Washington state every year.
  • The average starting salary for graduates is $68,000 per year.
  • CSE is the #1 first choice major of incoming UW Seattle freshmen; four other Engineering fields rank in the top ten.

Also on Thursday the Washington State Economic and Revenue Forecast Council provided its quarterly update on recent and anticipated revenue collections. Key findings include:

  • Cumulative General Fund-State (GF-S) revenue collections from November 11, 2016 through March 10, 2017 were $163 million (2.6%) higher than forecasted in September.
  • Forecasted revenue for the current (2015-17) biennium was increased by $247 million. Forecasted GF-S revenue for the 2015-17 biennium is now $38.227 billion, an increase of 13.5% above that of the 2013-15 biennium.
  • Forecasted revenue for the 2017-19 biennium was increased by $303 million. Forecasted GF-S revenue for the 2017-19 biennium is now $40.817 billion, 6.8% more than that of the 2015-17 biennium.

Finally, in case you missed it, Evergreen President George Bridges and WWU President Sabah Randhawa penned an op-ed in the Seattle Times on the need to invest in a world-class education system to meet the demands of a 21st Century economy. Check out our Washington Competes proposal for more information on how Washington’s public baccalaureates can meet current and future needs in our state.

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Under the Dome: Day 61 of the Legislative Session

The legislative session heated up this week with the deadline for bills not necessary to implement the budget to pass out of their chamber of origin. That has meant some very long nights of floor action for members in both chambers. Check out COP’s bill tracker for a complete list of currently-active bills we continue to monitor.

Next week the House Higher Ed Committee is scheduled to hear a number of Senate-passed bills related to campus sexual violence, student loans, Advanced Placement, tuition waivers, workforce programs, and more. The Senate Higher Ed Committee is scheduled to hear House-passed companion bills on some of these same issues as well as legislation concerning textbook costs, student and activity fees, and branch campuses.

The Senate Higher Ed Committee has also scheduled work sessions on the topic of student financial aid and STEM/high demand degrees that will include presenters from COP as well as the public baccalaureates. You can watch both live online at tvw.org.

March 29 is the deadline for bills to pass out of their respective policy committees in order to continue to receive further consideration. April 23 is the last day of the regular session.

Interested in additional updates on the legislative session? Check out government relations pages from each of the public baccalaureates:

Finally, COP would also like to note the passing of longtime legislative leader Representative Helen Sommers. First elected in 1972, Rep. Sommers was the second-longest serving state legislator Washington’s history. She will be long remembered as an enthusiastic and effective champion for higher education access and opportunity in Olympia. Check out Rep. Sommers’ oral history book for additional details on her tenure.