The folks over at Western Legislative Review are providing updates on the current session down in Olympia. Their latest post is dated Jan. 28. It begins:
We’re now in week three of the 105-day, 2013 regular legislative session. The major focus this session will be on passage of the 2013-2015 biennial budget. Estimates right now show a budget gap of about $2 billion dollars, and lawmakers are hard at work considering where and how to best allocate state resources, where to find more efficiencies in government, where and if the state needs to raise more revenue, and how to come up with the estimated $1 billion necessary to meet the constitutional obligation to provide adequate funding for K-12 education. It is unlikely the House or Senate will release a budget proposal prior to the next revenue forecast which is set to be announced on March 20.
Higher Education Committees in the House and Senate have been busy in work sessions. The House spent last week hearing from industry representatives on workforce needs including panels from aerospace, software, energy, agriculture and viticulture, biotech, health care and the maritime industry. The panels provided a good overview of each specific industry as legislators consider how and where to invest to ensure we are preparing graduates to meet the workforce needs of employers here in Washington. Western’s budget priorities this year align very well with what we heard last week from industry leaders, specifically regarding a need for engineers and a field of study focused on the new energy economy.