Government Relations


Revenue forecast provides timely bump

A new report released today indicates budget writers will have an additional $400 million over previous assumptions to help reconcile their proposed budgets during this year’s special legislative session. You can find the official press release from the state budget office here and TVW’s coverage here.

The new revenue forecast added $79 million for what’s left of the two-year budget cycle that ends June 30 and $327 million for the new one that begins July 1. The Economic and Revenue Forecast Council projects the state’s budget to total $37.45 billion for the 2015-17 biennium.

“The steady improvement in our economy is encouraging,” said David Schumacher, director of the Office of Financial Management. “And while the added revenue from today’s forecast helps, we still have a lot of work to do in figuring out how to meet our needs and obligations in the next budget.”

Today marks day 20 of the 30-day 2015 special legislative session, scheduled to end on May 28 and convened by Governor Inslee on April 29 after the Legislature adjourned its regular session without a final budget compromise.

COMPETES on the floor


As DC warms up, so have things for the House and Senate.

The America Competes Act- commonly known as Competes- is the authorizing legislation for all Federal science research investments, particularly those that support partnerships with public research institutions like WSU. The bill will be on the floor this week, likely Wednesday. Encompassed in this legislation is funding for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education programs, the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy’s alternative energy work, and the Department of Energy’s Office of Science.

H.R. 1806 - America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2015 was signed into law in 2009 by then President George W. Bush. The intent of the bill was “To invest in innovation through research and development, and to improve the competitiveness of the United States.”   Because of budget constraints, the bill that will be considered on the floor this week has noticeable cuts to the National Science Foundation as well as other agencies that fund programs at Washington State University and many of our collaborations with the University of Washington and PNNL. The three institutions have partnered in educating our Congressional delegation on the importance of these programs. The House Rules Committee will determine today which amendments can be voted on before the bill moves to final passage. We are hopeful the bill will continue to improve as it moves through the legislative process.

On May 19th the House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a hearing on national grid security. WSU has been working diligently in partnership with PNNL to meet the goal of creating energy reliability and security for the U.S. The hearing is expected to cover potential impacts on grid reliability resulting from conflicting Federal laws; the role of reliable generation resources in regulated and restructured electricity markets; and emerging advanced grid technologies, such as combined heat and power, energy storage, microgrids, and energy analytics.


Who is out East:

While there are no visitors from the West coast this week, early last week we were joined by the College of Veterinary Medicine’s Dean Bryan Slinker as he communicated the importance and impact of the WSU Paul G. Allen School for Global Animal Health. On Thursday and Friday Brian Dixon, WSU’s Assistant Vice President for Financial Services, met with most of the Washington State delegation to share with it how WSU  addresses the financial  needs of its students. Dixon also discussed the importance of affordability, access, and attainment.  As Congress begins to evaluate the Higher Education Act, we look forward to having more opportunities to highlight WSU’s most important resource, its students.



Legislature adjourns, special session to commence Wednesday

The Legislature adjourned its 2015 regular session this evening and has been called back for a 30 day special session beginning Wednesday.

Most notably, lawmakers still must agree on a two-year operating budget and a capital budget. You can learn more about the differences between the various proposals here. You can view WSU’s testimony on the two operating budget proposals here and here.

Though special session agendas are typically limited, the Legislature may still consider other policy bills as deemed necessary.

Bill for enology, viticulture programs signed into law

HB 1004 - Wine Tasting Bill

Governor Inslee signed House Bill 1004 into law this afternoon, allowing students under 21 enrolled in enology and viticulture programs at four year universities to taste but not consume wine as part of their instruction. The bill previously passed in the Senate with a vote on 38-6 last week and it passed through the House with a vote of 94-4.

Similar legislation was passed in 2013 that authorized community and technical colleges to apply for special tasting permits for students enrolled in wine-related programs. HB 1004 simply amends current law to provide the same authorization for regional and state universities.

WSU testified that this will improve the educational experience for enology and viticulture students.

Purce, Sherman honored by Senate


Evergreen President Purce stands far right for recognition by the Senate with wife Jane Sherman standing to his immediate left.

The state Senate this morning approved a resolution honoring the distinguished career of retiring Evergreen State College President Thomas L. “Les” Purce, a former vice president at WSU. Also recognized was his wife Dr. Jane Sherman, WSU’s retiring vice provost for academic policy and evaluation.

Having served as president of Evergreen since 2000, Dr. Purce will retire this August as an “exemplar of a public servant in higher education, with his twenty-six year career in Washington state,” Senate Resolution 8650 reads.

Regarded as a top public liberal arts and sciences institution, Dr. Purce’s leadership has propelled Evergreen to national recognition. Evergreen has emerged as a leader in reducing the length of time and cost required to earn a bachelor’s degree, and enriching educational experiences by exceeding benchmark measures of the National Survey of Student Engagement.

Prior to his leadership as president of Evergreen, Dr. Purce served as vice president of extended university affairs and dean of extended academic programs at WSU, and had a career in the state of Idaho that spanned 15 years in both public and private sectors.

As a vice provost at WSU and associate director for academic policy at the Council of Presidents, Dr. Sherman has led efforts to build and maintain Washington’s nationally recognized system of student transfer and articulation. Dr. Sherman will retire from a respected career in Washington higher education leadership this year as well.

Video of this morning’s proceedings on SR 8650 can be viewed below.

Stressing the importance of higher education

This past weekend the Spokesman-Review published an op-ed piece co-written by Washington State University Spokane chancellor Lisa Brown and Eastern Washington University president Mary Cullinan. The article showcases the benefits of better funding higher education, especially for the Inland Northwest region that needs educational opportunities and graduates in high-demand fields to meet up with the demand of the growing population.

As legislators approach the end of this year’s 2015 legislative session they will tackle the issue of how best to enhance affordability of higher education while still preserving educational quality and enhancing access to high demand degrees. Brown and Cullinan stress the positive influence higher education has on Eastern Washington’s economic growth, too.

You can read the full article here.

Bill for enology, viticulture education sent to the governor

The state Senate passed legislation today that would allow students under 21 to taste but not consume wine in enology, viticulture and related programs. HB 1004 passed with a vote of 38-6 and is on its way to the governor’s desk.

Currently, community and technical colleges are authorized to apply for special tasting permits for students enrolled in similar courses. House Bill 1004 would include regional and state universities to the list of institutions allowed to apply for these permits. This would improve the educational experience for students in enology and viticulture programs by allowing them to taste the wines they will one day have a hand in making.

Video of the Senate’s floor hearing on HB 1004 can be viewed below.

Governor, lawmakers celebrate 25 years of branch campuses

Left to right: UW Bothell Chancellor Bjong Wolf Yeigh, WSU Chancellor Brown, Governor Inslee, WSU Chancellor Moo-Young, WSU Chancellor Netzhammer and UW Tacoma Chancellor Mark Pagano

Chancellors look on as they receive recognition

Left to right standing: Chancellors Moo-Young, Brown and Netzhammer stand for recognition by the State Senate during the Senate’s floor action this morning

Governor Jay Inslee and the State Senate recognized the 25th anniversary of the five branch campuses of Washington State University and the University of Washington today, the 92nd day of the 105-day regular legislative session.

The morning began in Governor Inslee’s office where he presented each chancellor with a signed copy of a proclamation to “reaffirm our shared dedication to educational excellence and access to higher education for all Washingtonians,” as the document reads.

The State Senate later passed Senate Resolution 8663 to honor the founding legislation of the branch campuses.


Left to right: Chancellor Moo-Young, Chancellor Brown, WSU Director of State Relations Chris Mulick and Chancellor Netzhammer

Legislation passed in 1989 allowed WSU to open branch campuses in Spokane, Tri-Cities and Vancouver, and the UW to do the same in Bothell and Tacoma. With the mission of expanding access to higher education in Washington state, the branch campuses also drive economic development by strengthening the regional workforces they serve.

WSU Chancellors Lisa Brown, Keith Moo-Young and Mel Netzhammer respectively leading the WSU Spokane, Tri-Cities and Vancouver campuses traveled to Olympia to join UW Tacoma and Bothell leadership in the celebration.

Video coverage of the Senate’s remarks on resolution SR 8663 can be viewed below.

Session Kicks into High Gear

What’s coming up this week:

Congress has reconvened from its two-week recess and faces an ambitious timetable.

The April 15th Budget Deal deadline set by the Republican led Congress is quickly approaching. Quibbles over the Department of Defense and the need for a balanced budget, lead the way in tedious talks and negotiations.

Republicans remain hopeful that they will be able to produce a budget at some point in the near future.

Visitors in DC:

Greater Spokane Incorporated, Spokane Washington’s only Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Council, will be in DC this week to discuss Spokane specific issues that range from education to transportation.

Dr. Timothy V. Baszler, Director of the Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory, will be meeting on the Hill to advocate on behalf of the work of the Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory has contributed and share the benefits of this work to Washington State.

The Word on the Hill:

The presidential race of 2016 seems as though it is right around the corner. With a recent announcement from presidential hopeful, Hillary Clinton and this week’s anticipated deceleration from Senator Marco Rubio, the election platform is slowly beginning to solidify.



Comparing the House and Senate budgets

Both the House and Senate have unveiled their respective operating and capital budget requests and legislators will begin negotiating final budgets to send to the governor’s desk in the coming weeks.

The WSU budget office has prepared side-by-side analyses incorporating original WSU requests compared with budget proposals from the governor, House and Senate. You can find the operating budget analysis here and the capital budget analysis here.

WSU has registered its support for both operating budget proposals and both capital budget proposals produced by the House and Senate even as there are differences between them.

You can find WSU’s testimony on the Senate capital budget from this week below.

Colleen Kerr, Vice President for External Affairs and Government Relations. 901 Fifth Avenue, Suite 2900, Seattle, Washington 98164. 509-335-5756. Contact Us.