SINE DIE! is a Latin term that means “without day” and marks the end of the 2018 legislative session has finally arrived! Little known tradition, the Magnolia tree outside the SE corner entrance of the legislative building is often referred to as the “Sine Die” tree. Legend has it that when the tree begins to bloom, Sine Die is just around the corner. At last check, the blooms were just budding, and low and behold Sine Die!
The Legislature was able to finish the session without the need for a special session for only the second time since Governor Jay Inslee took office in 2013. Bolstered by a single party control in the House, Senate, and Governor’s office, legislators handled a number of considerable issues this session and managed to finish on time.
It is believed that the Legislature has finally met the requirements of the McCleary decision by adding an additional $1 billion in state funds to teacher salaries. At last correspondence, the Supreme Court expressed frustration and kept the case open because the state had not yet fully funded teacher salaries. Impacted heavily by a recent $1.3 billion windfall in projected state revenues, the Legislature was able to meet the court’s requirements while at the same time reducing property tax burdens across the state in 2019. While it is speculated that the case has been addressed, no formal ruling from the court has been issued.
In terms of agency priorities, it could be said that this was the session with much ado about nothing. HB 1827, which proposed a number of changes to how the state managed educator workforce development grants, was a large focus for agency staff throughout the entire session. Staff took a more observant approach while the bill was in the House, working directly with the sponsor to build a stronger understanding and relationship. In the Senate, staff was able to play a more active role and get specific amendments introduced to address some concerns with the language as proposed.
HB 1827, however, failed to make it across the finish line, ending its run in the Senate chamber just a few steps from final floor debate. As a result, the number of changes outlined in the House budget (take a look at section 501 (4) to see agency-specific allocations) contingent on the passage of HB 1827 did not make it into the final budget passed by the legislature. It can be safely assumed that the proposed changes outlined in HB 1827 will remain a part of the legislative discussion throughout the interim and into next session.
There were no substantive changes to the agency budget from what was passed last year. There will be a more detailed review of what did not change at the coming board meeting. There was, however, a minor but significant change to the funding allocated to implement HB 1445 concerning dual language.
The Board entered the session, after approval from the Governor’s office, with the budget priority of securing a $1 million increase in the funding for the Bilingual Educator Initiative (BEI) established in HB 1445. This would raise the total allocation from $450,000 to $1,450,000. This priority was included in the Governor’s proposed supplemental budget and was the focus of most staff lead budget discussion with the Legislature. Increased funding was secured, but with a small caveat. The proviso line item was increased by $1 million! However, as a change from last year, the proviso included specific language that indicated that, of the increase, $950,000 was to be spent on dual language expansion programs in elementary settings with the remaining $500,000 directed to the BEI work. While this was not exactly what was sought, it will result in a net increase for the BEI work moving forward.
One budget item not included in the agency priorities at the beginning of the session but included in the final budget is a $250,000 proviso allocated directly to the Professional Educator Standards Board “to procure or develop professional development for paraeducator subject matter certificates…including any necessary changes or edits to general paraeducator certificates…” This funding was a priority of stakeholders and the amount and terms of the allocation was the result of external stakeholders’ advocacy efforts.
More detailed information will be presented at next week’s board meetings. As always, if you have any questions about this update or the legislative process, please do not hesitate to send those directly to firstname.lastname@example.org.