There is a face-off going on down in Olympia. The Governor v. the Legislature. The Governor v. her own Democrats. The Democrats v. the Republicans. The House v. the Senate. And caught right in the middle is funding for Highly Capable Programs in the supplemental budget.
It appears there will be a special session beginning Friday to consider the supplemental budget, provided the five parties to the discussions get their act together. We can’t wait to see if they do. We need you to take action immediately to make known your wishes regarding Highly Capable funding for 2009-2010.
The Governor made across-the-board cuts in November. That resulted in 6.3% cuts to Highly Capable Programs: $561,000 from categorical funding to districts, $11,000 from Centrum and $6,000 from FPS/DI, totaling $578,000 and leaving an appropriation of $8,628,000 for the year.
Now the Governor proposes to totally eliminate all highly capable funding retroactive to September 2010.
The House Democrats have published a detailed list of cuts which appears to include the already made across-the-board cuts the Governor made last month. Since no explanatory notes or material were released with the house democrat list, we are guessing that the cuts in it to HCP are the ones already made in the across-the-board cuts since they match to the dollar.
The House Republicans issued a statement saying “no retroactive cuts” so we are assuming that there will be no cuts to HCP such as proposed by the Governor, but since their proposal does not contain any detail, we are left up in the air as to whether or not there might be other cuts to HCP.
The detailed list of the Senate Republicans does not include any cuts to HCP.
The Senate Democrats are not yet ready to release their list of cuts but majority leader Lisa Brown did say “We must keep in mind that the education we provide to our young people represents their opportunity for their future.” Will this save HCP funds? Maybe.
Please, please, contact your legislators today and tell them you oppose any further cuts to Highly Capable Program funds. Appropriate services for highly capable learners are not a nice add-on we can fund when times are good and drop when times are lean. They are an essential component of a strong state economy, an investment in the state’s future. Some other points you can make are:
• Interrupting educational programs in mid year by defunding them as proposed by the Governor is disruptive to students and districts alike. Contracts have been signed, students are in programs, teachers are committed, some districts would need to either completely reorganize their activities or find local funds to continue them as they are now established.
• Eliminating HCPs for one year when they will become a mandated part of basic education in Sept. 2011 is counterproductive. It will cost more to reestablish these programs than will be saved by eliminating funding for the entire year.
Legislators are in Olympia this week for caucus meetings and some joint committee meetings. In order to contact them there, go to http://www.leg.wa.gov/LIC/Pages/hotline.aspx and follow the suggestions as to method. If you elect to use the Hotline, write out your short message in advance and read it to the operator so it says exactly what you want it to say. Operators will transcribe your oral message and send it on to the Legislator.
For the sake of our children, make contact today.