2017 Legislative Session

House higher education capital budget projects


The 2017-19 Capital Budget includes $802 million in total appropriations and alternative financing authority for higher education facilities, including $419 million in state general obligation bonds. Of the total spending authority, $433 million, including $216 million in state general obligation bonds, is provided for the community and technical college system. $369 million, including $203 million in state general obligation bonds, is provided for four-year institutions.

Funding is provided for a variety of major projects, including:

  • $24.2 million for the replacement of the Burke Museum at the University of Washington (UW);
  • $10 million for the academic component of the new Population Health Sciences Research Building at the UW;
  • $38.1 million to construct Phase II of the Global Animal Health Building known as the Allen Center at the Washington State University (WSU);
  • $9.9 million for renovation and addition construction of the Aviation Program facility at Central Washington University;
  • $67 million for construction of the Interdisciplinary Science Center at Eastern Washington University;
  • $8.7 million for the upgrades to Critical Power, Safety, and Security Systems at The Evergreen State College (TESC);
  • $5.6 million for renovating and consolidating the Health and Counseling Center at TESC;
  • $35.1 million for the Professional-Technical Education Center at Big Bend Community College;
  • $33.3 million for the Center for Advanced Manufacturing Technologies at Clover Park Technical College, of which $28.6 million is funded with alternative financing;
  • $37.8 million for the Science, Engineering, and Technology Building at Edmonds Community College;
  • $23.4 million for the Health and Life Sciences Building at Highline College;
  • $24.9 million to renovate the South Wing of the Main Building at Spokane Community College; and
  • $34 million for the Learning Commons at Whatcom Community College. 


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Interpreter bill going to Governor Inslee

SB 5142, the bill  that gives deaf and hard of hearing paraeducators another 12-18 months to meet their standards, was approved today in the House on a vote of 94-3.  That finishes the legislative process and now the bill goes to Governor Inslee for his approval.

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Another change to paraeducator bill

Yesterday, before voting the paraeducator bill out of the Appropriations committee, legislators approved an amendment to delay the implementation date of the minimum employment requirements one year.  Paraeducators will have to meet the requirements by September 1, 2018, rather than September 1, 2017.

Hopefully this will be the last amendment to the bill but there are a couple more steps to go through so we shall see.

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Budget funds higher education projects

Every year, the Capital Budget funds a variety of state projects.  Many of those are at higher education institutions that we represent.

Here is the list of Senate projects this year!  More information will be coming after the House approves it’s Capital Budget.

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Revenue to fund education

Yesterday, the House Finance committee took several hours of testimony on HB 2186, the bill to authorize new revenue sources to fund McCleary, K 12, and other priorities in the House’s recently approved budget.  It would authorize an additional $2.8 billion of new revenue sources in the 2017-19 budget which would grow to $4.8 billion in the 2019-21 budget.  The majority of these increases in 2017-19 would come from three sources: B&O tax ($1.2 billion),  capital gains ($715 million), and, real estate excise tax (REET) $435 million.  Here is a complete listing at this table.

Not surprising, there were many more supporters than opponents testifying at the hearing.  The committee approved the bill on party line vote this morning sending it to an uncertain future on the House floor.

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McCleary solution must fund classified employees

Unless the McCleary solution funds the 5,000 classified employee FTEs that are locally funded, a new law, the levy cliff bill SB 5023, will prohibit school districts from seeking local funding for those FTEs. And if they can’t fund them through local levies, and the state doesn’t fund them, guess what…the employees would have to be laid off.

That’s because of a clause in the bill that only allows local levies to fund “enrichment”.  There isn’t a definition of “enrichment” in the bill.  Whenever legislators in Olympia talk about enrichment however, it is extra sports programs, arts programs, extra field trips, etc.  It has never been defined as hiring custodians, secretaries, maintenance employees, IT employees, paraeducators, to work.

I am in the process of trying to get a definition from legislators.

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Paraeducator breakthrough

It looks like this is the year that we will pass the paraeducator bill!  After three years of trying to get all the recommendations from the paraeducator advisory workgroup implemented, PSE reached an agreement with WEA on changes to our original bill.  Though many features of the original bill continue, we agreed to a variety of changes to get the bill passed this year.  Both the House and Senate education committees approved the agreement this afternoon.  The bills, HB 1115 and SB 5070, next go to the fiscal committees for their approval.

Paraeducator minimum employment requirements

These are the current Title I standards that are in place in most all school districts.  All paraeducators, not just paraeducators who work in Title I schools or school districts, will have to meet one of the following standards beginning September 1, 2017:

  1. Be at least eighteen years of age and hold a high school diploma or its equivalent; and
  2. Have received a passing grade on the education testing service paraeducator assessment; or
  3. Hold an associate of arts degree; or
  4. Have earned seventy-two quarter credits or forty-eight semester credits at an institution of higher education; or
  5. Have completed a registered apprenticeship program.

Special education and English language learner certificates

The easiest change to describe is that the paraeducator board will continue to develop special education and ELL (English Language Learners) standards but paraeducators are not required to earn this “specialty” certificate to work in these programs.  In order to earn the certificate, the paraeducator must attend 20 hours of professional development.  The certificate expires after five years.

Paraeducator certificate

Paraeducators must take the following courses to earn their “paraeducator certificate”.  The legislature must provide funding for:

  1. a four day fundamental course of study; and,
  2. an additional ten days of general courses, as defined by the board, on the state paraeducator standards of practice.

Only after completing both the four day fundamental course and the 10 day general course will a paraeducator earn their paraeducator certificate. The certificate does not expire.

If the legislature does not provide funding for the courses, paraeducators don’t have to meet the requirement that they get a paraeducator certificate within three years of taking the four day course of study.

Four day fundamental course of study

Beginning September 1, 2019, school districts must use their best efforts to provide the course of study before the paraeducator begins to work with students and their families.  At a minimum they must provide paraeducators hired on or before September 1, 2019, the four day fundamental course of study by September 30, 2019.  Paraeducators hired after September 1 of each subsequent year who work in a school district with 10,000 or more students, must receive the course of student within 4 months of the date of hire; paraeducators hired after September 1 of each subsequent year, who work in a school district with less than 10,000 students, must receive the course of study by no later than September 1 of the following year.

10 day general course of study

Beginning September 1, 2019, school districts must provide the 10 day general course of study within 3 years of completing the four-day fundamental course of study.

Advanced paraeducator certificate

The paraeducator board will develop the seventy-five hour professional development training that a paraeducator will have to take in order to qualify for their advanced paraeducator certificate.  The certificate expires after five years.


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Final budget better for classified employees

House democrats just released their budget, the final of the three budgets, that is quite a bit different from the Senate proposal released last week.  Representative Ormsby, chair of the Appropriations committee, characterized the differences between the House and Senate budgets like the differences between apples and zucchinis.  Except for the lack of additional funding for K 12 health insurance or classified employee staffing, it was good on all other measures.

Major Issues:

— Higher Education Contracts and Health Care Agreement – Fully funded

— K 12 Classified Employee Salary Increase – 19.9% effective 9-1-17, 17% effective 9-1-18 (this includes the I 732 salary increases of 2.3% effective 9-1-17, and 2.7% effective 9-1-18.)

— Learning Days (something new) – One funded day in 2017-18, Two days in 2018-19, Four days in 2019-20, 6 Days in 2020-21

— Higher Education Tuition Freeze and revenue backfill – $56 million

— K 12 Insurance – frozen at current rate, $780

— No change to basic education classified employee staffing funded by local levies (5,000 FTEs) 

— House’s paraeducator bill fully funded.

$1.7 billion of the K 12 compensation increases, inclusive of the learning days and I 732 salary increase, are in jeopardy if the House does not pass nearly $3 billion in new tax sources.

As more details emerge, I will update this entry.

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Republican levy proposal looks good

One key component of any McCleary solution has to be the State taking responsibility for funding basic education.  Currently, school district’s rely upon their local levies to fund among other things, 5,000 classified employee FTEs that should be funded by the state.  Additionally, levies fund a portion of basic education salaries that should be funded by the State.  With that in mind, it is clear that local levies have to go down (only remaining use would be for “enrichment”) and State funding would have to go up.

As you can see from this document, the Senate levy proposal accomplishes that goal, fully funding all 5,000 FTEs and basic education salaries.  And it goes one step further: it equalizes all school district levy funding across the state.  In other words, no longer is there the property poor / property rich school district issue since all will be treated the same.

While there still are some problems with other features of the Republican’s McCleary solution that we are trying to change, at least they got this one right!


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1 minute on Senate Budget

With over 100 people wanting to testify, everyone was limited to 1 minute of testimony  (I think I did it in 45 seconds)…
This is what I said:
We like:
  1. Funding paraeducator bill
  2. Pension contributions including the $700 million from rainy day fund
  3. Funding the union coalition health care agreement
  4. Levy equity proposal
  5. State funding for 5,000 locally funded basic education classified employee FTE staff 
  6. State funding for the portion of basic education classified employee salaries that are locally funded
We urge them to consider or reconsider:
  1. Fully funding the PSE higher education contracts
  2. Seattle CPI as future inflation index starting in September 2018
  3. Funding Insurance Inflation with separate index or better yet…move classified employees into PEBB.
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