Budget deals reached, special session ends
Legislators wrapped up their 2016 special session and adjourned sine die late on March 29 after agreeing to supplemental operating and capital budgets. In addition to budget work, legislators confirmed six community and technical college trustees. They also reached final agreement on 17 bills impacting higher education and students.
Now that the legislative session has concluded, legislators return to their local communities and begin interim work, election preparation and planning leading to the 2017 legislative session.
Final operating budget
The final supplemental operating budget bill, 2ESHB 2376, passed the Legislature on March 29. After accounting for one-time impacts from the 2014 state Supreme Court decision Moore vs. HCA and the maintenance and operation shift to the Education Construction Account, the supplemental operating budget includes a $2.51 million increase for the fiscal year ending on June 30 and a $3.22 million increase for the 2017 fiscal year which begins on July 1.
The budget specifically affects the state’s community and technical colleges by:
- Increasing funding for existing MESA pilot projects ($450,000 in FY 2017): Additional funding to bring pilot allocations to $125,000 annually and program oversight/research to $110,000 annually.
- Increasing tuition reduction backfill ($386,000 in FY 2016, $93,000 in FY 2017): Acknowledges errors in applied baccalaureate program’s enrollment base used to calculate tuition reduction impact.
- Settling the Moore v. HCA class action suit by providing: $19 million in general fund state for FY 2017 but local fund liability remains at $13.4 million.
- Funding for Alcoa worker retraining ($750,000 in FY 2016, $1.5 million in FY 2017): Funding for retraining of aluminum smelter workers at Alcoa Intalco impacted by foreign trade through Bellingham Technical College.
- Funding wildfire prevention program ($157,000 in FY 2017): Funding to start a Wildfire prevention program at Wenatchee Valley College.
- Health benefit contribution rate change ($616,000 in FY 2017): The change in appropriations will reduce the amount of the 2017 scheduled increase in contribution rates. The new 2017 rate is increasing to $888 per employee per month (from the 2016 rate of $840.)
- Shift of M&O costs from State to Education Construction Account (fund 253) (-$3.6 million in FY 2016 and 2017, with +$3.6 million in Education Construction Account funding): Similar to previous Maintenance and Operation fund shifts to the building fee account, this move is a zero-sum to the system. It will require a transfer of expenditures for this activity from state fund sources to the Education Construction Account. This is stated in supporting documents as a one-time shift.
- Changes in pass-through charges: Changes in state funding are appropriated, however
total increases in anticipated service charges include increases assumed to be paid
by local funds. With the exception of worker’s compensation (which is allocated to
districts), all charges for central services provided to community and technical colleges
are paid by the SBCTC exclusively using state appropriations allocated for those purposes.
Past increases in central service charges that identify impacts to local funds have
been paid using state resources.
- Worker’s compensation changes ($545,000 additional state for $839,000 in increased charges for FY 2017): Reflects increases in rates.
- Self-insurance rate changes ($27,000 less state for a $41,000 overall reduction in FYs 2016 and 2017): Updated actuarial analysis based on refreshed actuals changed rates.
- OFM budget/accounting/forecast ($712,000 additional state for $1,096,000 in anticipated new annual charges): OFM will now be charging agencies for the services provided by statewide budgeting, accounting and forecasting divisions. The charges are scheduled to begin in FY 2016.
- All other changes: $143,000 additional state for $220,000 in additional annual charges in FY 2016. $36,000 in state for $54,000 in additional annual charges in FY 2017. Reflect rate changes for Audit, Attorney General, DES Central Services and payment for the Time, Leave and Attendance System development costs.
- Department of Corrections (DOC) contract increases for COLAs ($1.25 million total for both fiscal years): Funding is included to recognize the impact of 2016 and 2017 COLAs on education contracts between DOC and SBCTC.
- Allows the system to provide post-secondary education through the existing Department of Corrections contract for the remainder of this biennium.
Supplemental capital budget
The supplemental capital budget, ESHB 2380, does not fund new design or construction of major projects in the community and technical college system. It does, however, include authority to finance locally funded projects at Bellevue College, Spokane Falls Community College, Wenatchee Valley College and Pierce College Fort Steilacoom.
The budget also transfers land currently leased from the Department of Natural Resources at Grays Harbor College, Green River College, Highline College and South Seattle College-Georgetown campus to the colleges. Under the legislation’s terms, the land must continue to be used for an educational purpose.
Bills passed Legislature, headed for governor's signature
State Board staff tracked 122 bills this session with potential impact to community and technical colleges. The following bills passed and delivered to the Governor for signature:
- 3SHB 1682: Improves educational outcomes for homeless students through increased in-school guidance supports, housing stability, and identification services.
- HB 2398: Clarifies current requirements for public purchases of goods and services from nonprofit agencies for the blind.
- ESHB 2511: Concerns child care center licensing and modifies definition of “school-age child”
- HB 2557: Allows unused shared leave to be returned to the donor employee
- 2SHB 2791: Creates the Washington Statewide Reentry Council to promote successful reentry of offenders after incarceration.
- SHB 2875: Establishes the Office of Privacy and Data Protection.
- EHB 2883: Addresses government efficiency by eliminating or revising the requirements for state agency reports.
- ESSB 5435: Addresses the Washington state deferred compensation program and optional salary deferral.
- SSB 5928: Authorizes Bellevue College to offer bachelor of science degrees in computer science.
- SB 6171: Enacts civil penalties for knowing attendance by a public official of a meeting held in violation of the open public meetings act.
- ESSB 6293: Allowing employers to pay medical aid benefits for student volunteers through the Department of Labor and Industries (L&I).
- SSB 6354: Reverse articulation to allow eligible students to receive an associate degree after transferring to a baccalaureate institution. Governor’s veto overridden by the legislature.
- SSB 6466: Creates a work group to develop a plan for removing obstacles for higher education students with disabilities. Governor’s veto overridden by the legislature.
- ESSB 6528: Enacts the Cybersecurity Jobs Act.
- E2SSB 6601: Creates a Washington 529 college savings program.
For a detailed compilation of bills tracked this session, see the 2016 Final Bill Status Report.
Senate confirms 6 trustees
The Senate confirmed six trustees March 29 in the final hours of the special session:
- Lisa Woo, Bellingham Technical College
- Jada Rupley, Clark College
- David Mitchell, Columbia Basin College
- Debrena Jackson Gandy, Highline College
- Lindsay Fiker, Skagit Valley College
- Bridget Piper, Community Colleges of Spokane
Legislative News will be published as legislative activities and events impacting community and technical colleges occur throughout interim. For additional information or resources, please visit SBCTC Government Relations.