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House Higher Education committee staff published a table today comparing Senate and House bills, which would create the Council office, define its responsibilities, and set membership for its board. While Senate Bill 6232 passed unanimously on February 10, House Ways & Means is set to introduce a substitute on the House bill. Legislative staff published the table to compare the original House bill, the engrossed second substitute Senate bill, and the proposed House second substitute bill.
Last year, Senate Bill 5182 (introduced and signed in 2011) significantly changed the landscape of higher education policy coordination when it eliminated the Higher Education Coordinating Board (HECB) and created the Office of Student Financial Aid. This bill created a steering committee, led by the Governor, to reconsider higher education governance. After meeting through last summer and autumn, they released a final report that made a number of policy suggestions.
The 2012 Legislature has entertained a number of higher education governance bills to replace the HECB and many of its policy functions. These bills would charge a new Student Achievement Council with some coordinating and planning functions, as well as the HECB’s financial aid management function.
At this stage, SSB 6232 is progressing through the legislative process and may serve as the vehicle for creating the Student Achievement Council and defining its role and responsibility in higher education policy and governance. A summary of the second substitute bill is included below.
The Student Achievement Council is created
Within the Council, the Office of Student Financial Assistance is created to administer financial aid
The Council is comprised of four citizen members, one four-year college representative, one Community/Technical College member, one nonprofit independent higher education member, one K12 member, and one student (9 members total)
The Council’s goals are to maximize educational attainment and monitor progress towards its goals
Additionally, the Council would:
Establish short and long term attainment goals
Engage in strategic planning
Conduct financing planning, study per student funding levels, and continue to make budget recommendations
Recommend system design and coordination efforts
Set minimum admissions standards
Use data to make informed recommendations
Arbitrate disputes between the two-year and four-year sectors
Last year, Washington State Senate Bill 5182 abolished the Higher Education Coordinating Board and created a Higher Education Steering Committee to assess the state’s need for a redesigned statewide coordinating agency for education. The 13 person Committee met four times and was chaired by Governor Gregoire, and also included UW President Michael Young.
The Final Report, released today, determined that a statewide education coordinating agency in Washington should be singularly focused on increasing educational attainment (at all levels). The report recommends the creation of an Office of Student Achievement, overseen by a majority citizen Advisory Board. This Office would be responsible for:
Setting and monitoring short and long term statewide goals for educational attainment
Engaging in strategic planning to meet attainment goals
Developing performance plans and incentives
Engaging in education system design and coordination
Providing educational data, research, and analysis in partnership with the existing Education Research and Data Center (ERDC)
Developing budget recommendations into the future
Setting minimum college admission requirements
Administering programs that provide outreach and education to students to increase educational persistence
Addressing issues affecting student retention at major transition points (e.g. high school to college, and two-year to four-year)
Administering student financial aid programs
Serving as the primary point of contact for public inquiries on higher education
The report presents two options for the focus of the Office of Student Achievement. In Option A, the Office would coordinate among and between all state educational entities at every level. In Option B, the Office would focus directly on coordination between secondary and postsecondary education. Governor Gregoire announced today that she was endorsing the adoption of Option B outlined in the Committee’s Final Report and would present implementation legislation shortly.
The Governor released a preliminary list of potential budget reductions for FY13 today. The list includes a set of severe cuts across state government but demarcates which reductions she would include in her formal November budget. For higher education, the Governor would cut colleges and universities 15 percent in FY13 and suspend the State Work Study program. Last year, UW students received $2.3 million in State Work Study funds.
The Governor also included potential general fund state reductions at 10 and 20 percent (click on the chart below to enlarge it).
More information about these potential reductions are included in a Planning & Budgeting brief. Note that the reductions outlined in the Governor’s letter are preliminary and we are many months away from resolution on a 2012 Supplemental Budget.
Governor Gregoire announced that she will call the Legislature back to Olympia for a 30-day special session at the end of November after the next revenue forecast is released. Gregoire will outline her expectations for the special session during a press conference this morning, which will be aired on TVW.
A November 2011 special session is not a complete surprise, as the latest revenue forecast reduced general fund revenue by $1.4 billion for the biennium. Many anticipate that the next revenue forecast will reduce anticipated revenue further. During the special session, the Legislature will likely move to reduce general fund appropriations for both the current fiscal year and FY13.
Please check this blog regularly for information about the upcoming special session, state budget cuts, and impacts on the UW budget.
On Thursday, September 16, the Washington State Economic and Revenue Forecast Council (ERFC) released its quarterly update of State General Fund Revenues. The forecast reduced expected revenue for the upcoming 2011-13 biennium to $30.3 billion, $1.4 billion less than the previous forecast released in June. A deficit of this magnitude is expected to necessitate another round of budget cuts for state agencies, including the UW, in the upcoming legislative session set to commence in January.
Yesterday, the Washington State Economic Revenue and Forecast Council released a troubling update for 2011-13 state general fund revenue. Overall, the over $730 million dollars held in reserve in the recently signed budget is now projected to be only $163 million.
If this trend continues, mid-year and supplemental session cuts may be likely. Please see our OPB brief for a summary of this revenue report.
While the House and Senate have yet to finish sine die today, both capital and operating budgets are close to final.
The UW’s operating budget cut is $207 million over the biennium. UW’s cuts are comprised of “higher education reductions” and a mandatory 3 percent, general fund state compensation reduction ($12 million per year). Compensation reductions, while mandatory, are not imposed on individual salaries at the colleges and universities but rather, are required compensation savings targets that the University must meet over each fiscal year.
The final operating budget includes a 16 percent resident undergraduate tuition rate cap but provisions from E2SHB 1795 (tuition setting authority bill) are included. The UW Regents will meet June 9, 2011 to discuss tuition setting authority.
The capital budget provides $26.3 million in state bonds for projects like Odegaard Undergraduate Learning Center and minor capital repairs. Additionally, a separate capital budget bill appropriates $53.6 million in UW Building Fees for preventative maintenance and building repairs as well as minor capital repairs.
Please review the OPB’s conference budget brief which assumes that the operating and capital budgets are signed by the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate in their current forms. We will notify campus of any major amendments once the Governor has reviewed the operating and capital budgets.
As of today, House Bill 1795 has passed both the Washington State House and Senate by wide margins and is on its way to the Governor. As outlined in our previous post, this bill gives Washington’s four year public institutions the ability to set resident undergraduate tuition rates, alongside new financial aid and accountability requirements, for a limited time.
Note that due to the ongoing state legislative special session, as well as the need for time to discuss the policy alternatives authorized in HB 1795, the Board of Regents will likely approve the FY 2012 UW operating and capital budgets, including tuition rates for the 2011-12 academic year, at their July 21 meeting instead of in June.
In the meantime, Interim President Phyllis Wise will be holding two community conversations where she will discuss and answer questions about the budget and tuition-setting:
Friday, the Seattle Times published an article about a potential agreement between lawmakers to, given several years of steep funding cuts, allow Washington’s universities to set undergraduate resident tuition rates for a limited number of years and with new financial aid and accountability requirements.
News of this agreement comes as the Legislature is in the middle of a 30 day special session, and while a negotiated budget and resolution on tuition rates for resident undergraduate students is not yet final, a new OPB brief provides some national context for and information about tuition setting policy.