This past Wednesday, the March Economic and Revenue Forecast was released, containing mostly positive news as our state’s economy continues to outperform the nation. Updated numbers showed state revenues looking to increase by about $861 million more than expected through the middle of 2021. State revenues are projected to increase approximately $307 million for the current biennium and increase $553.5 million for the 2019-2021 biennium. While the forecast is positive, the news elevates the partisan disagreement about the need for new taxes. The new money makes it more difficult for the majority Democrats to make the case to raise taxes. However, in tomorrow’s House budget release we’ll likely see a capital gains tax, an increase in the real estate excise tax as well as an increase on the business and occupation tax. We hear the House will fund a number of new programs and tie specific taxes to new areas of spending. The House Democrats will release their operating budget and tax proposal tomorrow at 11:45am. The Appropriations Committee will hold a public hearing later that afternoon beginning at 3:30 in the Appropriations Committee.
AESD Specific Bills
When the first budget is released tomorrow we hope to see funding for AESD priority bill HB 1216. Sen. Wellman’s Early Learning and K-12 Committee held public hearing last week and the bill is still enjoying significant bipartisan support. Of course, anything can happen in the legislature so we are still working closely with the bill sponsor to make sure it moves along as planned.
School Employees Benefits (SEB)
HB 2096 is still on hold in the House. John Welch and Jessica De Barros met with House leadership last week and asked for continued support. At this point, we still need all AESD superintendents and your board members to reach out to all legislators in both chambers to ask for solutions.
School District Territory Transfers
SB 5731: Up for hearing on Monday. We will testify in front of Chair Santo’s House Education Committee as “other” and express concerns. This bill allows a petitioner to request a hearing by the Regional Committee on School District Organization if a school district dismisses a proposed transfer of territory initiated by citizen petition. We submitted an amendment request to Senator Short who has agreed to include the amendment should the bill be scheduled for a vote in the House Education Committee.
Children’s Mental Health
SB 5903: Scheduled for public hearing this week. It requires each ESD to have a behavior heath coordinator. Please note fiscal note for the bill which is just over $1.8 million for all nine ESDs. We have had some push back at the ESD cost.
SB 5576 dead for the session. However, AESD submitted a budget proviso to budget writers and asked for the funding in the Operating Budget. We are asking the Ways and Means Chair to include funding in the budget for on-going professional development.
Special Education Advocate
We testified in House Education last week and asked for the ESD special education advocate be removed. As reported last week…Senator Braun agreed to an amendment removing ESDs from the advocacy role. SB 5532 was originally drafted to include a provision that requires ESDs to have a special education advocate. We submitted a letter of concerns and are asked for ESDs to be removed from the bill. Please note the bill moved off the Senate floor without the ESD amendment. We will be working to include the amendment in the House.
Career Connected Learning
SB 5327 was heard in the House last week. Senator Wellman has expressed a preference to have the CCL coordinator placed at each ESD. WA STEM is advocating for a competitive grant process to determine where the work would be accomplished. If you look at the bill text please notice section four which now says: Educational Service Districts shall each employ one full-time employee to convene and manage regional, cross-industry networks that will lead to the expansion of career connected learning opportunities. This is all subject to appropriation. This policy comes at the request of Governor Inslee. If passed the policy: Creates a multi-agency work group to coordinate career connected learning (CCL) opportunities, collect data, provide recommendations, and perform other duties; Creates a competitive grant program to support regional networks and program intermediaries in expanding CCL opportunities; Requires school districts to be funded up to 1.2 full-time equivalents for students in certain CCL programs; Requires the institutions of higher education to have CCL coordinators to engage faculty and institutional leadership in expanding the number of certain CCL programs.
SB 5088 : Scheduled for hearing in the House Education Committee this week. Authorizes school districts, beginning in the 2019-2020 school year, to award academic credit to students for computer science based on student completion of a competency examination. Requires a school district that operates a high school to, beginning no later than the 2022-2023 school year, provide an opportunity to access an elective computer science course that is available to all students.
Hearings This Week
Early Learning & K-12 Education (Senate) – SHR 1, JACB – 3/25 @ 1:30pm
- E2SHB 1660 – Public Hearing – Concerning the participation of students who are low income in extracurricular activities.
- SHB 1715 – Public Hearing – Removing school districts’ ability to withhold pupils’ grades and transcripts.
- ESHB 1813 – Public Hearing – Incorporating the costs of employee health benefits into school district contracts for pupil transportation.
- HB 2040 – Public Hearing – Concerning nonhigh school districts.
Education (House) – HHR A, JLOB – 3/25 @ 1:30pm
- SSB 5354 – Public Hearing – Concerning programs for highly capable students.
- SSB 5612 – Public Hearing – Concerning Holocaust education.
- SB 5263 – Public Hearing – Concerning school bus driver requirements.
- SB 5088 – Public Hearing – Awarding credits for computer science.
- SB 5731 – Public Hearing – Concerning petitions for proposed transfer of school district territory. (Concerns/High)
Appropriations (House) – HHR A, JLOB – 3/25 @ 3:30pm
- HB 1109 – Public Hearing – Making 2019-2021 biennium operating appropriations.
Ways & Means (Senate) – SHR 4, JACB – 3/25 @ 3:30pm
- ESHB 1130 – Public Hearing – Addressing language access in public schools.
- SHB 1264 – Public Hearing – Concerning secondary traumatic stress in public school staff.
Capital Budget (House) – HHR B, JLOB – 3/26 @ 8:00am
- HB 1102 – Public Hearing – Concerning the capital budget.
Human Services & Early Learning (House) – HHR C, JLOB – 3/26 @ 1:30pm
- 2SSB 5903 – Public Hearing – Concerning children’s mental health.
Education (House) – HHR A, JLOB – 3/26 @ 3:30pm
- SSB 5023 – Exec Session – Concerning ethnic studies materials and resources for public school students.
- E2SSB 5091 – Exec Session – Concerning state and federal special education funding. (High)
- SSB 5324 – Exec Session – Concerning support for students experiencing homelessness.
- SSB 5532 – Exec Session – Concerning special education.
Early Learning & K-12 Education (Senate) – SHR 1, JACB – 3/27 @ 1:30pm
- HB 1120 – Public Hearing – Updating the term essential academic learning requirements to state learning standards to reflect current terminology.
- SHB 1151 – Public Hearing – Modifying education reporting requirements.
Detailed Bill Summary
Download a detailed list of bills concerning education.