From the desk of Rand Simmons, Washington State Librarian.
Monday, June 29 the Legislature approved a compromise 2015-2017 Operating Budget. Governor Inslee signed it Tuesday, June 30, the final day of the fiscal year. This action avoided a government shutdown on Wednesday, July 1. Secretary of State Kim Wyman wrote, “This means no shutdown, no unpaid furloughs and no service interruptions. I’m happy for the citizens of Washington and for all of our amazing OSOS staff!”
The budget news for the State Library is FANTASTIC! The Legislature approved HB 2195, the proposed $1 recording fee increase that funds the Heritage Account to support State Library operations. Not only does the increase provide the money to backfill the projected $2.4 million shortfall in revenue, it also creates a much more permanent solution to the problem of facing continued shortfalls in future biennia – an ongoing, more stable funding source.
Wyman noted that the legislators seemed to like the Library 21 notion of expanding access to collections and information in new and tech-based ways.
The Legislature also provided $1.5 million to continue the Microsoft IT Academy, the online technology training provide through Washington libraries at no cost to the people of Washington. Wyman observed “It is a real Library 21 success story in bringing digital literacy to more library-users through free online IT course work that can provide needed skills for job placement and advancement.”
State Librarian Rand Simmons stated, “We believe much of the Microsoft IT Academy funding can be included in the required ‘maintenance of effort’ needed to receive full federal Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) funding. This will help repair the damage done by reductions in state funding for the Library.” LSTA dollars support programs and services the library offers to local community libraries.
Having made this her top legislative priority, Secretary Wyman was actively engaged in the budget process, met with legislators, and worked with House and Senate leaders during final budget negotiations to generate support for HB 2195. Deputy Secretary of State Greg Lane observed, “Without her personal involvement, our success simply would not have happened.”
Lane praised the efforts of State Library supporters which combined with Secretary Wyman’s strategy brought about success. The State Library begins the 2015-2017 biennium with funding level to that of the 2013-2015 appropriation. It’s a good thing.