Legislative Relations

The State Board for Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC) provides leadership and coordination for Washington’s system of public community and technical colleges. It is governed by a nine-member​ Governor-appointed board. Yakima Valley College, founded in 1928 as Yakima Junior College, became a state community college following the passage of the Community and Technical College Act in 1967.

SBCTC Supplemental Operating Budget Request for 2024

Washington’s 34 community and technical colleges train people across our state for well-paying careers while providing businesses with the talent they need to thrive. Our college system’s 2024 supplemental budget request focuses on a critical workforce need: preparing more Washington residents to fill jobs in the fast-growing computer science field while building a diverse, high-tech workforce.

Strengthening the Computer Science Workforce ($9 million)

Our college system proposes to create at least 15 more Bachelor of Science in Computer Science programs as authorized by the Legislature in 2021 (SB 5401). The demand for high-tech workers in Washington is high. Our state ranks first in the nation for the concentration of tech workers relative to the overall employment base: Nearly one in 10 workers (9.4%) in Washington is employed in the tech industry. High tech careers pay well: The median annual salary for people employed in tech occupations in Washington is $130,000.

Despite this good news, local employers looking for tech talent continue to encounter a skills shortage. Additionally, access to high-paying jobs is not equitably distributed; Black, Hispanic, and women workers are under-represented in Washington’s high tech industry.

Expanding access to computer science bachelor’s degrees would help fill skill gaps for Washington employers and provide community and technical college students — half of whom are students of color — access to these in-demand degrees within their local communities.

Expanding climate solutions curriculum ($950,000)

Climate change is a health issue, an economic issue, and an equity issue that affects every community. Green jobs in Washington state are growing exponentially and require new skill sets and competencies, along with a thoughtful redesign of existing programs to be more accessible and responsive to changing employer and community needs.

A legislative investment would support the integration of climate education and training into professional technical programs across Washington community and technical colleges, including developing new curricula and workforce training partnerships with Tribes. The training prepares students for well-paying jobs in the green economy, gives them skills to create equitable community-based solutions, and ultimately helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the impacts of climate change.

The Legislature provided one-time funding for climate solutions curriculum in the 2022 supplemental operating budget, which engaged approximately 500 faculty in developing hundreds of new curricular modules to teach critical skills and competencies for the green economy and climate solutions. This investment would enable colleges to continue this important work.

SBCTC Supplemental Capital Budget Request for 2024

Investing in College Campuses and Climate Recovery

Our community and technical college system’s $122 million supplemental request targets reducing greenhouse gas emissions, emergency repairs at Bellingham Technical College, and funding two priority capital projects.

Energy-performance standards

According to the Washington State Department of Commerce, buildings are the most rapidly growing source of greenhouse gas emissions in Washington state. The building sector is the state’s second largest carbon polluter behind transportation, and accounts for 27% of statewide emissions. Investing in building energy efficiency is the most cost-effective way to significantly reduce building sector emissions.

With full funding of this request, our colleges would:

  • Install energy submeters in individual buildings to ensure compliance with energy performance standards established under the 2019 Clean Buildings Act (HB 1257) and then expanded in 2022 (SB 5722). Fast action is required to meet the first mandatory compliance date of June 1, 2026.
  • Develop decarbonization plans for campuses with centralized heating and cooling plants. Decarbonization plans for campuses with centralized energy systems serving at least five buildings and more than 100,000 square feet of building space are required under HB 1390, which sets a due date of June 30, 2024 for planning to begin, and June 30, 2025 for them to be submitted to the Department of Commerce for review and approval.
  • Tune up and optimize inefficient building systems through a “retro-commissioning” grant program. The grant program would be created through this request and administered by the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges.

These investments would equip colleges to meet state energy performance standards for buildings, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve operational efficiencies, and avoid significant penalties, thereby preserving funding for instruction and student services.

Priority design and construction projects

Our college system’s 2024 budget request also seeks funding for repairs to the Bellingham Technical College Campus Center Building and two major capital projects not funded in the biennial budget: the Center for Vocational and Transitional Studies at Lower Columbia College in Longview, and the Performing Arts Building replacement at Columbia Basin College in Pasco. Funding these requests would serve students while reducing a backlog of capital projects needed across Washington’s 34 community and technical colleges.

Among the backlog of future capital projects is Yakima Valley College’s proposed Prior Kendall Hall project. YVC is expanding enrollment capacity in its Associate Degree in Nursing program and recently launched a new Practical Nursing program, the only PN program in Eastern Washington, to help fill a critical shortage of these health care professionals in Yakima, Kittitas and Klickitat counties. These programs will be housed in the proposed project, which includes spaces that mimic clinical settings. In addition, the proposed building will include a career center and IT collaboration space.

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SBCTC Operating Budget Request for 2023-2025

The COVID-19 pandemic fundamentally changed higher education in Washington. Our 2023-25 operating budget request would turn the lessons learned during the pandemic into greater opportunities for social and economic mobility for the people, businesses, and communities of Washington.

Provide Fully Funded, Competitive Compensation ($157 million)

Colleges are losing outstanding employees and job applicants to better paying K-12 schools, private employers, and other colleges and universities. Low pay has been an issue for a long time, but the consequences are more severe as we work to teach and serve students derailed during the pandemic. Faculty and staff are leaving to work in the very fields students hope to learn. A salary increase of 6.5% for each year of the biennium, for a total increase of 13%, would keep talent at our colleges. We are requesting that any and all increases be fully funded so colleges are not forced to cut instructional programs and student services to pay for the funding gap. The 13% increase would be in addition to routine state general wage increases.

Advance Equity, Diversity and Inclusion ($26 million)

Students of color have been profoundly affected by racial injustice, institutional barriers and the pandemic. Our ongoing, mission-driven work to advance equity, diversity and inclusion was strengthened by the Legislature in 2021 with the passage of Senate Bills 5194 and 5227. Additional investments will support further implementation of college EDI plans, close equity gaps, and improve the employment, earnings and economic mobility of students of color. In doing so, we will help create a more equitable and prosperous Washington.

Support Workforce Development Programs ($77 million)

Many industries in Washington — such as healthcare, advanced manufacturing, transportation, and aerospace — were struggling to find skilled employees even before the pandemic. COVID-19 made skill gaps worse. However, colleges are having difficulty maintaining workforce programs because of the high cost of small class sizes, specialized equipment, consumable materials, and inflation. In many cases, these programs are the only pipeline into specialized fields. Investments would help colleges sustain workforce programs and update equipment to ensure students learn in classrooms that mirror today’s work environments.

Expand Learning Technology ($93 million)

Remote options hastened by the pandemic are now the new normal. Students, especially working adults, value the flexibility of learning in classrooms, online, or in a mix of the two. Unlike one-time emergency funding during the pandemic, this investment would support lasting progress in the digital evolution of higher education. Colleges would expand hybrid and online options, upgrade audio and visual equipment, equip students with laptops and hotspots, and train faculty and staff to support student success. Investments would also support back-end IT operations and protect students and colleges from cybersecurity threats. Remote options would stretch beyond the classroom to include services such as advising and financial aid.

SBCTC Capital Budget Request

For the 2023-25 capital budget, our system requests $1.7 billion in capital investments to maintain and modernize our aging campuses and ensure we provide effective teaching and learning environments for the next generation of students..

Minor Works

Only 68% of our system’s 21 million square feet of facilities is in at least adequate condition. As facilities age, the costs to repair, maintain and preserve existing facilities grows. With minor works funding, colleges undertake small but critical projects that preserve and keep campus spaces viable, relevant and useful. The projects prolong the life of buildings, preventing or delaying more costly renovation and replacement projects in the future.

Under our request, our state’s 34 community and technical colleges will receive funding for high-priority facility repairs — such as roofs, walls, windows, mechanical systems and site repairs — and for infrastructure replacement projects. All colleges will also receive funding to reconfigure existing space to meet post-pandemic education needs. For example, the funding will allow colleges to modify classroom space to facilitate hybid teaching and learning, create active learning and multimedia rooms, expand shared areas, and repurpose open space.

Major Projects

Our capital budget request also includes funding for 41 major projects, which are ranked based on a rigorous assessment of the need for space, condition of existing facilities, systemwide policy objectives, and estimated costs. The projects will support space for instruction, labs, student services, and vocational programs in high-demand fields like clean energy, automotive technology, advanced manufacturing and allied health.

This request includes $28.275 million for Yakima Valley College’s proposed Prior Kendall Hall project. YVC is expanding enrollment capacity in its Associate Degree in Nursing program and recently launched a new Practical Nursing program, the only PN program in Eastern Washington, to help fill a critical shortage of these health care professionals in Yakima, Kittitas and Klickitat counties. These programs will be housed in the proposed project, which includes spaces that mimic clinical settings.

Fully funding our capital request will benefit students at every college, create valuable public assets for local communities, and put people to work in well-paying jobs that support the local economy in every corner of the state.

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