It’s day 79 of this year’s legislative session and the big news of the week is still to come.  Leaders in the House of Representatives could release their budget proposal any day now.  But given the great complexity and difficulty in plugging this year’s multi-billion-dollar budget gap, this release has been delayed.  We’ll post an update and outline the impacts on WSU once the proposal has been released.

Yesterday, four WSU regents joined colleagues from the state’s other four-year universities to present a united front in meetings with legislators on the Capitol campus.  Laura Jennings, Scott Carson, Harold Cochran and Connie Niva all participated in group and individual meetings with members from all four legislative caucuses.  They and their colleagues pressed for a strong state commitment to higher education and for approval of legislation that would grant universities the authority to set their own resident undergraduate tuition rates.  Bills are being developed in both chambers.  Regents stressed that they would be good stewards of such responsibility.

In other news, we’re just days away from the next legislative cutoff.  All fiscal bills must be advanced from the budget committee they’re resting in by Friday.  Of course, bills that are deemed necessary to implement the budget are exempted from cutoff and this year there may be a great many of them.

One bill that needs to move by Friday is Senate Bill 5636, the North Puget Sound University Center bill. We’re working to get a hearing scheduled for that right now.  In its current state, the bill would require an academic plan drafted for the region by WSU to be submitted to the Legislature for review.  It would be deemed approved were the Legislature not to take further action on it during the 2013 legislative session.  WSU would then assume management of the center in 2014.