Session underway, SBCTC interns busy on the Hill
Hello Olympia! This blog comes to you from the legislative interns at SBCTC, Kate Hummel and Brenda Portaro. Each week we will be giving an update from our student perspective on this legislative session.
This week, we jumped into session with determination and a lot of unknowing. The world came at us from both directions, and we learned – through trial and error – many processes, names and acronyms.
On Tuesday, Jan. 10, Brenda attended the House Higher Education Committee meeting. This meeting highlighted the increase in the number of enrollment of students, student debt, the GET and the new 529 program. What was also noted in this meeting was that the amount of the state budget that went to higher education. was 18 percent last biennium.
On Wednesday, Jan. 11, Brenda attended the Senate Ways & Means Committee hearing. At this meeting, the committee discussed K-12 public schools, higher education, early learning, employee compensation, mental health, natural resources, and other human services.
On Thursday, Jan. 12, Brenda and I attended the Senate Higher Education Committee. In this meeting, the projection for the state budget was given for this biennium and the 2019-21 biennium. It is anticipated that the 2017-19 biennium will have a surplus of $50 million but will have a deficit of $2.3 to $2.4 million in the 2019-21 biennium. This meeting also highlighted the ways in which higher education is affected by the operating budget, highlighting how education leads to great jobs and opportunities for Washington kids.
We are working with the Washington Community and Technical College Student Association (WACTCSA) to promote civic engagement at the 34 community and technical colleges. A big push for this session is through the day-long event, Advocacy Day. At Advocacy Day, the student legislative representatives will learn techniques in talking with their legislators, and they will have an opportunity to discuss pressing issues with legislators by the end of the day.
At SBCTC, we are watching some bills that pertain to students and community and technical colleges:
- HB 1129 and SB 5069 would allow community and technical colleges to provide postsecondary education to inmates up to an associate degree.
- SB 5086 and SB 5087 relate to the capital budget for the 2017-19 biennium. The budget contains the funding for many projects at the community and technical colleges.
- HB 1168 and HB 1179 concerns full-time and part-time faculty. HB 1168 requires 70 percent of faculty to be full-time tenure track positions by 2023. HB 1179 requires part-time faculty to receive equal pay for equal work by the 2020-21 academic year.
- HB 1033 addresses private colleges and the State Need Grant.
- HB 1057 addresses education loan information and how financial aid offices have to process information individually for students.