State Sen. Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor, was chosen to be chairman of the Senate Higher Education and Workforce Development Committee.
Maybe that puts him in a better position to keep an eye on the University of Washington Tacoma when it comes to budget and campus development.
That workforce development is a new component of the committee. It appears to be tailored to him. In real life, Kilmer is an economic development guy.
"During these tough economic times, maintaining access to higher education and helping workers get the skills they need will be more important than ever," Kilmer said in a news release. "In the coming years, more and more people will look to our institutions of higher education – our community and technical colleges, our four-year universities, our private and career schools, our apprenticeship programs — to get the skills and credentials they need."
By the way, it appears Sen. Craig Pridemore, D-Vancouver, paid a price for making a few not-discreet-enough calls about possibly replacing Sen. Margarita Prentice as chair of the Ways and Means Committee. Prentice is still chair of the committee, but Pridemore no longer is vice chairman. That job went to Rodney Tom, D-Medina.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Dec. 5, 2008
Senate committee structure and chairs approved, leadership finalized
OLYMPIA – Today, majority Democrats in the Senate approved the committee structure for the next two years, and finalized their leadership team.
The Senate committees, along with their chairs and vice chairs are as follows:
Agriculture & Rural Economic Development
Chair: Sen. Brian Hatfield, D-Raymond
Vice chair: Sen.-elect Kevin Ranker, D-San Juan Island (new)
Government Operations & Elections
Chair: Sen. Darlene Fairley, D-Lake Forest Park
Vice chair: Sen. Eric Oemig, D-Kirkland
Human Services & Corrections
Chair: Sen. Jim Hargrove, D-Hoquiam
Vice chair: Sen. Debbie Regala, D-Tacoma
Labor, Commerce & Consumer Protection
(formerly Labor, Commerce, Research & Development)
Chair: Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle
Vice chair: Sen. Karen Keiser, D-Kent
Early Learning & K-12 Education
Chair: Sen. Rosemary McAuliffe, D-Bothell
Vice chair of Early Learning: Sen. Claudia Kauffman, D-Kent (new)
Vice chair of K-12: Sen. Eric Oemig, D-Kirkland (new)
Economic Development, Trade & Innovation
(formerly Economic Development, Trade & Management)
Chair: Sen. Jim Kastama, D-Puyallup
Vice chair: Sen. Paull Shin, D-Edmonds
International Relations Subcommittee (new)
Chair: Sen. Paull Shin, D-Edmonds
Health & Long-Term Care
Chair: Sen. Karen Keiser, D-Kent
Vice chair: Sen. Rosa Franklin, D-Tacoma
Natural Resources, Ocean & Recreation
Chair: Sen. Ken Jacobsen, D-Seattle
Vice chair: Sen.-elect Kevin Ranker, D-San Juan Island (new)
Financial Institutions, Housing & Insurance
(formerly Financial Institutions & Insurance)
Chair: Sen. Jean Berkey, D-Everett
Vice chair: Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens
Higher Education & Workforce Development
(formerly Higher Education)
Chair: Sen. Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor (new)
Vice chair: Sen.-elect Fred Jarrett, D-Mercer Island (new)
Chair: Sen. Adam Kline, D-Seattle
Vice chair: Sen. Joe McDermott, D-West Seattle
Environment, Water & Energy
(formerly Water, Energy & Telecommunications)
Chair: Sen. Phil Rockefeller, D-Kitsap County
Vice chair: Sen. Craig Pridemore, D-Vancouver (new)
Chair: Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen, D-Camano Island
Vice chair: Sen. Chris Marr, D-Spokane (new)
Ways & Means
Chair: Sen. Margarita Prentice, D-Renton
Vice chair of operating budget: Sen. Rodney Tom, D-Medina (new)
Vice chair of capital budget: Sen. Karen Fraser, D-Thurston County
Majority Democrats sought to reflect the reality of the current budget environment by approving a smaller number of committees, which means fewer staff and allows for cuts to the Senate’s administrative budget.
Gone is the Consumer Protection & Housing Committee, most of whose responsibilities will be absorbed by the newly configured Labor, Commerce & Consumer Protection Committee and the Financial Institutions, Housing & Insurance Committee.
"Our committee structure allows us to be lean and nimble in addressing the current budget situation facing our state," said Sen. Lisa Brown, D-Spokane, the Senate majority leader. "Our budget and policy committee chairs, in one way or another, will all be involved in bringing forward solutions to this unprecedented economic situation."
Senate Democrats also rounded out the remainder of their leadership team, after retaining Brown as majority leader, electing Sen. Ed Murray, D-Seattle, as caucus chair, and retaining Sen. Tracey Eide, D-Federal Way, as majority floor leader last month.
To the post of majority whip, they elected Sen. Chris Marr, D-Spokane, who replaces Sen. Debbie Regala, D-Tacoma.
To caucus vice chair, they elected Regala, who replaces Murray. To the post of assistant floor leader, they elected Sen. Joe McDermott, D-West Seattle, who replaces Marr.
To the post of assistant whip, they elected Sen. Claudia Kauffman, D-Kent, who replaces Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens.
Senate Democrats also elected to retain Sen. Rosa Franklin, D-Tacoma, as president Pro Tempore, and Sen. Paull Shin, D-Edmonds, as vice president Pro Tempore.
"Our leadership team is a diverse one, both ethnically and geographically," said Brown. Notably, Murray is the highest ranking openly gay elected official in state history, and among the highest ranking in the country. And Washington continues among the national leaders in percentage of women legislators, which is reflected by Senate Democrats’ leadership team as well.
And here is a news release from Kilmer’s office:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — Dec. 6, 2008
Kilmer selected to chair Senate Higher Ed Committee
OLYMPIA — Recognizing his experience and commitment toward improving post-secondary education and workforce development in our state, Senate Democrats today chose Sen. Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor to serve as the chair of the Senate Higher Education & Workforce Development Committee.
"During these tough economic times, maintaining access to higher education and helping workers get the skills they need will be more important than ever," said Kilmer, who served as a trustee of Tacoma Community College prior to being elected to the Legislature in 2004. "In the coming years, more and more people will look to our institutions of higher education – our community and technical colleges, our four-year universities, our private and career schools, our apprenticeship programs — to get the skills and credentials they need."
One of Kilmer’s chief goals will be to ensure Washington State is a leader in producing the innovators and skilled workforce needed to propel our economy forward in the short-term and the long-term.
"Education is directly tied to opportunity and prosperity for our state and its citizens," said Kilmer, who serves as the Vice President of the Economic Development Board for Tacoma-Pierce County when not in Olympia. "Our employers need skilled workers to compete. And Washingtonians want to be prepared for the jobs of today and tomorrow. Our future prosperity will depend on our ability to educate more people to higher levels"
Kilmer believes that while the current economic downturn presents enormous challenges, it also provides opportunities. "With a challenging budget outlook, we’ll need to really focus. We’ll need to focus on providing opportunities in high demand fields — like health care and computer science — where education leads to a job. We’ll need to focus on partnerships with employers. We’ll need to focus on meeting the needs of Washington’s students."
Kilmer will assume chairmanship of the Senate Higher Education & Workforce Development Committee when the Legislature convenes for the 2009 Session on Jan. 12.