The cherry blossoms are out in Olympia. Legislators and lobbyists alike are sneaking into the sun for a few enjoyable minutes after weeks on the floor and in meeting rooms, debating and hashing out important policy decisions. But we’re just two days away from “sine die” – the official term for the last day of legislative session – on April 23.
We know a lot about how things are shaping up for our policy priorities, but one area that’s coming down to the wire is the Ninth Grade Success program funding. As you know, dedicated funding wasn’t included in either budget proposal earlier this year. The proposals actually repurposed the federal funding schools were relying on – effectively eliminating the program.
We expect a final, negotiated budget to be released Saturday at noon, and we’ll know more then about the fate of the Ninth Grade Success funding. One thing is certain – this community did everything possible to elevate this to lawmakers. We are so grateful to all of you who signed our petition, called your legislators, and shared information about this proven and transformative program to raise high school graduation rates and support students to thrive in a pivotal year. Regardless of the outcome of this session, we are very appreciative of your advocacy.
On the policy front, we’re excited to share that a number of our priority bills are heading to the Governor’s office for signature with bipartisan support!
- HB 1169 eliminates mandatory legal financial obligations for youth and adults, and also eliminates the remaining discretionary court fees for juveniles as well as making prior non-restitution debt for young people uncollectible. This is a big victory, salvaged from the defeat of SB 5474 earlier this session.
- Two dual credit bills are also headed to the Governor: SB 5048 eliminates fees for participating in College in the High School, paving the way for more students to earn college credits that will help them transition to college. HB 1316 makes summer Running Start an option throughout the state, and ensures that students who have graduated high school can participate the summer after their senior year to help them complete their AA degree.
- SB 5243 directs OSPI to identify a common online platform for the High School and Beyond plan, and to engage students, families, and communities in the process. This is a step towards more consistent and robust planning for postsecondary opportunities throughout a high school experience.
We’ll share another update next week with a breakdown of the final budget, and in a few weeks we’ll offer a more comprehensive reflection on this legislative session.
We’re so grateful to each of you for sticking with us through this long session until the bitter end!