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.

Legislative Session Reaches First Cutoffs

The end of February marks the first deadlines for bills to pass out of their respective policy and fiscal committees in the house of origin in order to receive further consideration. Over the past two weeks COP has weighed in on a variety of bills related to student financial aid, campus sexual violence, capital projects, and more. Check out our bill tracker list for more information.

Also this week the Senate Majority Coalition Caucus released revised numbers for their proposal to fully fund the state’s K-12 school system while the House passed its education funding proposal. Both chambers are working to meet obligations related to the state Supreme Court’s 2012 McCleary v. State ruling

On Wednesday Governor Inslee signed his first bill – SB 5079 – into law. The legislation expands dental care on tribal lands.

On Thursday alumni from all six of the public baccalaureates travelled to Olympia from around the state to jointly advocate for higher education. Alumni met with members of both parties to discuss and express support for many of the elements in our joint Washington Competes proposal and to share the value of postsecondary education to their local businesses and communities.

Also on Thursday the state Senate unanimously passed SB 5764, which exempts survivor communications with, and records maintained by, campus-affiliated advocates from public record disclosure requirements, except in certain circumstances. This is one of the recommendations from the Campus Sexual Violence Prevention Task Force created in 2015 and staffed by COP.

Finally, COP would like to congratulate Columbia Basin College President Dr. Rich Cummins on his recent selection as the chancellor of Western Governor’s University Washington.

Week Five in Review

COP staff braved all the elements in Olympia this week – snow, torrential rain, and wind – during our trips to the state Capitol.

On Tuesday nearly 200 high school and college students from public and private four and two-year colleges and universities descended on Olympia from around the state to advocate for increased funding for the State Need Grant. Currently, nearly 24,000 students qualify for but do not receive the grant due to a lack of available funding. Nearly 10,000 of those students attend one of the public four-year institutions. This can result in increased time to degree and larger debt loads upon graduation. Fully funding the State Need Grant is also a component of our Washington Competes agenda as well a 2017 legislative priority for the Washington Student Achievement Council.

On Wednesday COP joined our partners in welcoming new WSAC Executive Director Michael Meotti and thanked OSPI representative Gil Mendoza for his outstanding service as a member of the Council. During the meeting the Council received an update from OFM Director David Schumacher on Governor Inslee’s 2017-19 operating and capital budget proposals.

On Thursday COP Executive Director Paul Francis, UW Police Chief John Vinson, SBCTC Director of Student Services Joe Holliday, and UW Deputy Title IX/ADA Coordinator Amanda Paye presented on the 18-month effort of the Campus Sexual Violence Prevention Task Force to members of the Senate Higher Education Committee. Details on the Task Force’s work are available at: http://www.councilofpresidents.org/safewacampus.html.

COP staff also continues to testify on a number of important pieces of legislation in both House and Senate committees.

Next Friday, February 17 is the deadline for bills to pass out of their respective policy committees. Therefore, policy committees will be extremely active with executive action sessions. The House Higher Education Committee will also hear legislation related to the disciplinary process at private institutions of higher education. The Senate Higher Education Committee will take up legislation related to campus sexual violence, eligibility for the State Need Grant program, and student veterans.

Fiscal committee agendas are also filling up given the quickly the approaching deadline for bills to pass out of their respective fiscal committees.

Week Four In Review

This week groundhog Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow, which, according to legend, signifies six more weeks of winter. Fortunately, we were blessed with some beautiful sunny days in Olympia this week during the fourth week of the 2017 legislative session.

In addition to testimony on legislation related to student textbooks and Advanced Placement exam credit, COP staff helped to organize a number of work sessions this week on textbooks, faculty workload, and student housing costs. Work sessions provide a terrific opportunity for policymakers and staff to learn more about how we serve students and strive to fulfill our missions as public colleges and universities.

We’re very proud to work with some outstanding faculty and student representatives in Olympia. This past Wednesday we came together to discuss how we can continue to collaborate on efforts to lower textbook costs, expand student financial aid, and more. We will continue to regularly connect with our student and faculty colleagues throughout session and beyond.

We were extremely pleased to welcome more than 30 public four-year and community and technical college trustees to Olympia yesterday for Regents and Trustees Days. Regents and trustees met with approximately 25 legislators from both parties as well as some of our statewide elected officials to discuss how policymakers can continue to expand opportunities for all Washingtonians to access postsecondary education and help to grow our economy. Of particular focus were the 24,000 eligible but unserved students who qualify for the State Need Grant. We know from past research that student financial aid helps to lower a student’s debt load as well as help move students toward a credential in a timely manner. These meetings also gave regents and trustees the opportunity to highlight our 2017 shared higher education agenda, Washington Competes.

Committee hearings will ramp up next week as we approach the first cutoff for policy bills to be passed out of their committee of origin.  The House Higher Education Committee will hear bills related to mental health and suicide, services and activities fees, student support services, and student financial aid. The Senate Higher Education Committee will hold a work session on the Mathematics, Engineering, and Science Achievement (MESA) Program as well as receive an updated on the Campus Sexual Violence Prevention Task Force staffed by COP. Stay tuned!

Week Three Recap

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

Legislative Week in Review

COP staff spent much of rainy week two of the legislative session giving presentations to policymakers. On Tuesday, Executive Director Paul Francis presented to the Senate Higher Education Committee on our joint agenda with the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges and Independent Colleges of Washington, Washington Competes. That was followed by brief presentations by our legislative directors on the operating and capital budget priorities for each respective campus. Members noted items of consistent need in institutional requests, including student support services, STEM/high demand programs, student financial aid, and investments in quality.

Key challenges for Washington include:

  • Below average funding for public colleges and universities
  • Low high school graduation rates
  • Low 4-year college participation rates
  • Persistent gaps between degree production and employer demand in key fields

On Thursday morning Paul Francis presented to the House Education Committee on the ways in which COP and our colleges and universities interact with the K-12 system in Washington state. Key areas of focus include teacher preparation, dual/concurrent enrollment, postsecondary outreach and access, high school graduation/college entrance alignment, and prevention/early awareness programs. Other organizations and agencies also presented, including the Department of Early Learning and the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges.

Also on Thursday COP Director of Policy and Academic Affairs Julie Garver presented on the work of the Accelerated Degree Programs Work Group established in the 2016 supplemental operating budget. Policymakers directed the Work Group to study the benefits, challenges, and best practices surrounding accelerated degree programs and report back their findings and recommendations. The Work Group identified four best practices:

  • Accelerated degree pathways must be either institutional or sector led.
  • Accelerated degree pathways should be considered one of many pathways students may pursue to earn a degree.
  • Communication with students should be clear both about the presence and requirements of accelerated degree pathways.
  • Cohort models should be considered in the design and implementation of accelerated degree pathways.

All our presentation materials and testimony are available online at:  http://www.councilofpresidents.org/index-3_issues.html

COP staff also testified on pertinent legislation in both the House and Senate.  Next week the House Higher Education Committee will hold hearings on legislation concerning faculty compensation, student financial aid, and student loan debt. The Senate Higher Education Committee will hear bills related to teacher preparation programs, student financial literacy, student loans, and workforce development. The committee will also receive updates on WSU’s recently created Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine, the UW’s WWAMI Medical Education Program expansion in Spokane, and an update from the Workforce Training and Education Coordinating Board on their Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act Strategic Action Plan.