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Operating budget, House capital budget proposals released

February 23, 2024 by SBCTC Communications

House and Senate budget writers released their versions of the operating budget over the weekend, holding hearings Monday. House capital budget writers also released their version of that budget early this week, following the Senate version released last week. That proposal was heard in committee Tuesday.

Also this week, session marked another cutoff deadline Wednesday when bills from the opposite chamber needed to be voted out of those policy committees to continue in the legislative process. Bills on chronic absenteeism, retail career education and automatically qualifying public assistance beneficiaries for the Washington College Grant were all up for hearings.

Yokiko Hayashi-Saguil, a State Board student services policy associate for financial aid, along with Ruben Flores, the Council of Presidents’ executive director, on Wednesday gave members of the House Postsecondary Education and Workforce Committee an update on the simplified Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) rollout. Their presentation repeated much of the Feb. 14 Senate Higher Education and Workforce Development Committee's work session on the same topic. Read a summary of that work session in last week's Legislative News.

Members of the community and technical college system's Instruction Commission visited the hill yesterday. College vice presidents of instruction met with Rep. Dave Paul and Rep. Debra Entenman, speaking with them about student basic needs, dual credit and corrections education.

Operating budgets released

House and Senate operating budget writers released their versions of the supplemental budget over the weekend, holding hearings Monday afternoon. For the community and technical college system, both budgets support continuing Integrated Climate Solutions curriculum development at $475,000 and refugee education at $1 million.

The Senate version of the budget includes:

  • $1 million for Career Launch enrollment.
  • $850,000 to expand the financial aid outreach and completion pilot program to ESD 113, which covers Grays Harbor, Lewis, Mason, Pacific and Thurston counties.
  • $819,000 to support incarcerated students under SSB 5953. See coverage of that bill’s Feb. 16 hearing in the House Postsecondary Education and Workforce Committee below.
  • $12,000 for the Retail Industry Work Group under ESB 6296. See coverage of that bill’s Feb. 20 hearing in the House Postsecondary Education and Workforce Committee below.
  • $257,000 to establish a Hospitality Center of Excellence.

Paul Francis, executive director for the State Board, and Ivan Harrell, president of Tacoma Community College, thanked the Senate Ways and Means Committee for its support.

“I want to thank you for the funding to expand the Student Aid Outreach and Completion Initiative pilot program to ESD 113. That program began a couple of years ago and has been a phenomenal success,” Francis said. He also thanked senators for Career Launch enrollment funding and for funding for a Hospitality Center of Excellence.

Harrell continued saying funding for climate curriculum and refugee education is needed. He also asked senators to consider funding the system’s $9 million request for Bachelor of Science in Computer Science programs.

“The amazing universities that offer these programs are just not able to meet the demand,” he said.

The House version of the operating budget includes:

  • $1.14 million to support development of Bachelor of Science in Computer Science programs.
  • $801,000 for Early Achievers Grant benefits navigators.
  • $553,000 to fill a funding gap related to the Student Basic Needs Benefits Navigator.
  • $412,000 to support opioid and fentanyl prevention and education on college campuses.
  • $275,000 for a low-income housing study.
  • Proviso funding to support programs at Edmonds College, Olympic College, Renton Technical College and Tacoma Community College.

Francis thanked members of the House Appropriations Committee for its investments in the college system, including financial aid, student support staff positions, and opioid and fentanyl prevention and education efforts.

“Thank you for the small increase in funding to move our benefit navigators per campus from 0.75 to 1.0 [FTE}. That is critically important in terms of connecting students for various benefit programs for which they may be eligible,” he said of the Student Basic Needs Benefits Navigator position funding.

Harrell thanked committee members for fully funding community and technical college employee cost of living adjustments in the 2023-25 budget, and for the supplemental budget's funding for climate curriculum development, refugee education, and basic needs navigator positions. He also encouraged the committee to increase its proposed funding for Bachelor of Science in Computer Science programs from $1 million to the system-requested $9 million.

“The CTCs can help address a critical need for employers while also helping students live, study and work in their local communities,” he said.

House capital budget released

The House released its version of the capital budget Monday, holding a hearing on it during Tuesday’s Capital Budget Committee hearing. This follows the Senate version of the capital budget released last week.

The House version includes full funding for emergency repairs for Bellingham Technical College’s Campus Center, matching the Senate. It also provides full funding to the system for utility submeters to comply with the Clean Buildings Act. The budget partially funds decarbonization planning efforts mandated under a district energy systems bill passed in 2023. Local financing authority for Renton Technical College’s Building J renovation project was also approved.

Darrell Jennings, capital budget director for the State Board, thanked members of the House Capital Budget Committee for funding the Bellingham Technical College building and the system’s climate commitment act compliance efforts.

“We do request, though, that you come to the same level of funding as the Senate for decarbonization planning, primarily because the Department of Commerce is still working on the rulemaking for that program and those requirements are uncertain at this time,” he said.

Incarcerated student financial aid bill heard in House higher education committee

Feb. 16 — The House Postsecondary Education and Workforce Committee took up a bill Feb. 16 that would affect financial aid for incarcerated students. SSB 5953 would allow students in prisons to apply and use federal and state financial aid for their educational programs. The bill passed the committee Wednesday and is scheduled for a hearing during today’s House Appropriations Committee hearing.

“The goal for me of this bill is to really improve the ability of our incarcerated individuals to transition successfully into their communities when they release from the correction system by extending Pell Grants to all correctional facilities,” Sen. Claire Wilson, the bill’s prime sponsor, said.

The bill would allow, but not require, students to use financial aid for high school diploma or equivalent programs, vocational skill development programs, and other programs that meet the student’s reentry plan requirements. Students would be required to use financial aid for programs outside of the student’s reentry plan.

“I fully believe that it is poverty and desperation that leads to incarceration, and it is education and opportunity that provide hope and future for success for individuals,” Arlen Harris, legislative director for the State Board, told the committee. “It's exciting to be talking about financial aid that can support the expansion of education programs in our corrections institutions.”

Bill automatically qualifying low-income students for Washington College Grant heard in Senate Higher Education committee

Feb. 16 — A bill that would automatically qualify high school sophomores, juniors and seniors who participate in Washington state’s Basic Food Program, which includes the federally-funded Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and the state-funded Food Assistance Program, for the Washington College Grant was up for a hearing during the Feb. 16 Senate Higher Education and Workforce Development Committee meeting. The bill, 2SHB 2214, passed the committee Wednesday and is scheduled for a hearing Saturday in the Senate Ways and Means Committee.

“The concern that this bill tries to address is that so many students who are eligible for [the Washington College] grant do not know that they are eligible,” Rep. Vandana Slatter, the bill’s prime sponsor, said. “We want to allow 10th, 11th and 12th grade students to know that they are eligible for the college grant if they're receiving SNAP or food assistance benefits.”

Yokiko Hayashi-Saguil, a State Board student services policy associate for financial aid, spoke in favor of the bill.

“I absolutely believe that this policy is increasing awareness and access to state financial aid, and it's a priority not just for our institutions, but for the state,” she said. “I really appreciate how this bill incorporates some critical implementation and timelines that allow our financial aid offices across our system to be able to implement this effectively.”

The automatic qualification would begin in the 2025-26 academic year. The bill must be funded in order to take effect.

Human Services Committee hears prison construction program oversight bill

Feb. 19 — The Senate Human Services Committee took up a bill Monday that would create an oversight committee on construction-related training programs and pathways to registered apprenticeships offered at the state’s prisons. The committee that would be established under 2SHB 2084 would look at community college-offered programs at 10 prisons.

Rep. May Fosse, the bill’s prime sponsor, told committee members that the bill would help prisons establish and maintain programs and apprenticeship pathways.

“When it comes to construction trade apprenticeships, there are really good opportunities for people who have justice-involved backgrounds that are seeking a second chance,” she said. “The committee created by this policy would be able to provide those collective developed recommendations.”

Will Durden, director of basic education for adults at the State Board, testified in favor of the bill, saying the committee will help ensure educational and pre-apprenticeship programs offered by colleges connect with employers.

“The establishment of an oversight committee is going to ensure that our programs adhere to high standards and they're going to foster that culture of continuous improvement and excellence,” he said.

The bill passed the committee Tuesday and is expected to be heard during today's Ways and Means Committee hearing.

Chronic absenteeism bill heard in House Education Committee

Feb. 19 — The bill addressing chronically absent students was up for a hearing during Monday’s House Education Committee meeting. If passed and funded, ESSB 5850 would require Educational Service Districts to offer training and coaching for staff on identifying and reengaging students who are chronically absent from their K-12 school. Reengagement programs could include Open Doors, which partner K-12 districts with community and technical colleges. The bill passed the committee Tuesday and was referred to the House Appropriations Committee for its consideration.

“It's not just getting [students] in the classroom,” Sen. John Braun, the bill’s prime sponsor, said. “We know that's the first step in getting them back on track in terms of learning loss and just ongoing education.”

Troy Goracke, a State Board basic education for adults policy associate, told committee members the bill would improve student retention and completion.

“These important policy changes will move the state closer to providing equity and education and opportunity for all K-12 students,” he said.

Bill establishing a retail industry work group heard in House higher education committee

Feb. 20 — A bill requiring the State Board establish a work group examining educational opportunities for the retail industry was up for a hearing Tuesday in the House Postsecondary Education and Workforce Committee. The work group that would be established under ESB 6296 would consist of representatives from higher education, business, labor and workforce development with expertise in the area. The group would be required to identify programs, gaps, best practices, career pathways and barriers to people considering entering the field. The work group would also be required to recommend up to four colleges for a short-term credential and microcredential pilot program supporting retail.

“This helps get the work group together to look at how we can leverage career pathways to success,” Sen. Matt Boehnke, the bill’s prime sponsor.

A 2023 report noted a greater than 60% employee turnover rate in the state’s retail industry.

“The State Board certainly values pulling together stakeholders to take a look at where are there educational gaps in our instructional programs,” Carolyn McKinnon, a workforce policy associate with the State Board, said in support of the bill. She cited the importance of looking at programs that are of value to the workforce, saying a retail industry work group would fit well into the system’s established model of committees of industry and labor representatives advising college professional-technical programs.

The bill passed the committee Wednesday and was sent to the House for its consideration.

Trustees confirmed by Senate

The Senate this week confirmed Eben Pobee to the Shoreline Community College Board of Trustees.

Coming up next week

House and Senate fiscal committees will work over the weekend hearing bills with a monetary impact. Their cutoff is Monday when bills need to be voted out of those committees to continue in the legislative process. Representatives and senators will spend the rest of the week debating and voting on bills until Friday when bills from the opposing chamber need to be approved to continue to the next step in the process.

Last Modified: 2/23/24, 4:48 PM
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