Gregoire budget a good start for reinvesting in higher education

Gov. Chris Gregoire’s budget proposal released Tuesday maintains higher education funding after years of cuts, adds new funding for high demand academic programs and funds construction of the Clean Technology Laboratory project on the Pullman campus.

“This is the best budget proposal for WSU in over four years,” said WSU President Elson S. Floyd. “Gov. Gregoire has been a strong supporter of higher education and this budget reflects that.”

After years of major reductions to higher education, the Legislature this spring approved a no-cuts budget for state colleges and universities. The Gregoire budget proposal begins to turn the corner by again avoiding new reductions even as the state faces another billion-dollar shortfall.

It also provides WSU with $2 million to sustain and enhance new engineering enrollments and creates a competitive $11 million pool for Washington’s six public four-year universities to draw from to fund new enrollments in high demand Science, Technology, Engineering and Math disciplines. The budget also provides $35 million to support College Bound scholarships.

The Gregoire budget now goes to the Legislature, which will write its own version to send to the governor’s office next spring.

“This budget is a good start and begins a conversation with the Legislature about reinvesting in higher education,” Floyd said. “Over the past year we’ve witnessed a growing recognition in Olympia that we’ve cut higher education too deeply, weakening opportunities for students and the economy. Now is the time for reinvestment.”

The governor’s proposal for the state capital budget provides state support for the construction of the Clean Technology Laboratory in Pullman, which will house interdisciplinary research efforts in sustainable design, advanced materials and air and water quality.