March 21, 2017

Action Turns Again to Committees, Revenue Up

Action returns to policy and budget committees as the opposite chamber takes up bills that passed the original chamber. Policy committees have until March 29 to hear and act on policy bills; the fiscal cutoff is April 4th. Keep in mind that bills that get changed in the opposite chamber must return to the original chamber for a process of either agreement with the changes (concurrence) or asking the other chamber to recede from its changes.

On Thursday, the Economic Revenue Forecast Council met for some good news: revenue collections for the current biennium that ends June 30, 2017, are up by $258 million; and another $313 million in Near General Fund is projected for the 2017-19 biennium. The news is a double-edged sword, in that some legislators are pointing to the continued economic uptick and say that no new revenues are required, while others say that it will make negotiations easier but new funding is still needed to meet the education funding requirements.

The Senate budget is expected this week – instead of releasing it on the 20, as was widely expected, the Senate Ways & Means Committee has scheduled a hearing. The budget, which is expected to cut existing programs to fill the gap in its projected shortfall for education funding, is still likely to be released during the week. The capital budget, however, may not be released immediately.

Status of Top Five Legislative Priorities – Update & Focus for Members this Week

  1. Social and Emotional Learning
    • Focus for members: Continue to support the staffing as described in HB 1377 and HB 1621; support inclusion of operating budget provisos for Summer Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP) and continuation of the SEL Benchmarks Work Group.
  2. Amply Funding Basic Education
    • Focus for members: Review 2017 positions and share not just the ample funding but ALL of the positions. They provide a blueprint for many of the activities WSPTA hopes are in the final education funding plan. Talk with legislators about the need to add NEW money into the system and why just replacing local levies with state funding isn’t ample or comprehensive.
  3. Closing the Opportunity Gap
    • Focus for members: Additional funding for students who struggle, whether in a weighted per pupil model or categorical program, is needed if we expect different outcomes for our students who are challenged by an opportunity and achievement gap. To close this gap requires a more systematic approach to students’ academic and non-academic needs – the “whole child.”
  4. Standards for Para-educators
    • Focus for members: Continue to support SB 5070, which is up for a public hearing March 20th. Kirkland parent Cassandra Sage will be in Olympia on Monday testifying in support of this legislation.
  1. Breakfast after the Bell
    • Focus for members: ESHB 1508 is up for a public hearing in the Senate Education committee March 21st. Please let your Senators know that WSPTA fully supports this legislation and wants it to pass this session.

2017 WSPTA Supported Issues:

  • Improving Educational Outcomes for Foster Children
    • SSB 5241 had a hearing last week, and WSPTA member Corina Pfeil testified in favor. (This was her second time testifying this session – thanks Corina!) The bill is expected to pass easily.
  • Engaging Families in Student Success
    • Focus for members: Bellevue PTSA member Jess Garcia traveled to Olympia March 16 to testify on behalf of WSPTA in support of SHB 1618. It remains important to share your stories about why it is important to define Family & Community Engagement Coordinators, and ensure that funding allocated for them is only used for this staffing.
  • Post-Secondary/Higher Education Access and Affordability
    • HB 1512 will be heard in the Senate Higher Education Committee Thursday. WSPTA member Heidi Bennett plans to testify. In addition, WSPTA has weighed in on the inequity of HB 1333 and SB 5234, which would streamline crediting for students scoring a 3 or higher on AP exams, but not offer the same equity for IB students. This exclusionary approach to AP over IB could have the unintended consequence of diminishing the use of IB in schools and set up a challenge in districts that offer both.
  • Removing Barriers to Implementing ECEAP
    • Focus for members: Expansion of ECEAP, and the Summer ECEAP program will be handled in the operating budget. But it isn’t too early to let your House and Senate members know about the importance of early learning education and the need to increase slots to provide access to more preschoolers.
  • Restorative Justice and School Safety
    • No action this week

Week in Review

Two WSPTA parents testified before House and Senate committees; legislative consultant continued to meet with legislators.

The Week Ahead – Schedule Subject to Change

Monday, March 20

1:30 PM Early Learning & K-12 Education (Senate) – SHR 1

  • SHB 1046 – Public Hearing – Concerning certificates of academic and individual achievement.

1:30 PM Education (House) – HHR A

  • SB 5070 – Public Hearing – Concerning para-educators.

3:30 PM Ways & Means (Senate) – SHR 4

  • SB 5853 – Public Hearing – Concerning career and technical education funding. (Hearing is on the Proposed Substitute.)
  • SB 5891 – Public Hearing – Eliminating the use of the high school science assessment as a graduation pre-requisite. (Hearing is on the Proposed Substitute.)

Tuesday, March 21

8 AM Early Learning & Human Services (House) – HHR C

  • 2SSB 5107 – Exec Session – Facilitating local funding and involvement in expanding early childhood education and assistance program eligibility.

8 AM Higher Education (House) – HHR D

  • ESB 5234 – Exec Session – Requiring establishment of credit policies regarding AP exams.

1:30 PM Early Learning & K-12 Education (Senate) – SHR 1

  • EHB 1551 – Public Hearing – Creating a competitive equipment assistance grant program to enhance student nutrition in public schools.
  • ESHB 1508 – Public Hearing – Promoting student health and readiness through meal and nutrition programs.

1:30 PM Education (House) – HHR A

  • HB 1778 – Public Hearing – Providing for a simple majority of voters voting to authorize school district bonds. (All elections)
  • HB 1779 – Public Hearing – Providing for simple majority of voters voting in a general election to authorize school district bonds. (November only)
  • HJR 4203 – Public Hearing – Amending the Constitution to allow a simple majority of voters voting to authorize school district bonds. (All elections)
  • HJR 4204 – Public Hearing – Amending the Constitution to allow a simple majority of voters voting in a general election to authorize school district bonds. (November only)

Wednesday, March 22

1:30 PM Higher Education (House) – HHR D

  • ESB 5234 – Exec Session – Requiring establishment of credit policies regarding AP exams.

Thursday, March 23

8:00 AM Education (House) – HHR A

  • SSB 5241 – Exec Session – Concerning the educational success of youth who are homeless or in foster care.
  • ESSB 5449 – Exec Session – Concerning digital citizenship, media literacy, and internet safety in schools.

8:00 AM Higher Education (Senate) – SHR 3

  • E2SHB 1512 – Public Hearing – Expanding college bound scholarship eligibility.

Week 11 Bill Tracker Report & Events

Prepared by
Marie Sullivan
WSPTA Legislative Consultant

Category: Education , Family Engagement , Health & Well-being , Legislative

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