Today is the 57th day of the 60-day supplemental session. Last Friday was the opposite house cut-off, meaning any bills that are not passed off the floor of the opposite chamber are now considered dead. However, now is also the time in which NTIB, or Necessary to Implement the Budget, becomes an often used loophole in the cut-off process.
NTIB bills are those policy pieces that are necessary to make the budget a reality. Often the budget will make savings or spending assumptions based on specific policy changes, or the budget will reference a specific bill by number. In these instances, a bill may be deemed NTIB and therefore NOT subject to the already arbitrary cut-off date. The process of defining a bill NTIB or not is murky, to say the least, and is a pivotal moment in the process when political will and influence come into play.
The budget bills, almost as a rule, are considered NTIB (we can’t enact a budget without a passed budget bill). The most recent versions of the budget bills in the House and Senate differ considerably in terms of our agency and its work. The House budget proposes changes from last year’s allocation, while the Senate budget does not make any considerable changes to our agency.
The House budget assumes a number of policy changes outlined in previous versions of HB 1827. Chiefly, as introduced, HB 1827 shifted management of the Alternative Routes Block Grant and other educator workforce development grants to the Washington Student Achievement Council (WSAC). Going along with this policy change, the House budget proposes that $2.372 million in Alternative Route Block Grant funding be shifted from PESB to the WSAC. While there are other additional allocations to the PESB in relation to the policy implications of HB 1827, the end result is a net decrease in our agency budget as it relates to grants. This proposed decrease does not impact the allocation intended for agency operations.
Further differences derive from allocated funding associated with the implementation of HB 1445 regarding dual language instruction and bilingual educator recruitment. While the increased amount for implementation, $1 million in the 2019 fiscal year, is the same in both budgets, the directions around how the money is to be spent is different. The Senate budget directs the $1 million increase to the Bilingual Educator Initiative within PESB while the House budget directs the $1 million increase to the K12 Dual Language grants also outlined in HB 1445. Finding agreement in this proviso will be something that is likely addressed during final negotiations on the budget between the two chambers. These final negotiations typically take place between chamber leadership and are not necessarily open to the public. With only a few days left in the session, the negotiations are becoming less and less accessible.
We are indeed in the final hours of the session and staff will be watching closely as changes and movement at this point will be quick. As always, if you have any questions about the legislative process or this update, send those directly to email@example.com.