Governor releases operating, capital budget proposals

Operating and capital budget proposals introduced by Gov. Jay Inslee Wednesday would fund compensation enhancements, support nursing reaccreditation, a new energy research center at WSU Tri-Cities and fully fund the university’s request to build a new engineering student services building on the Pullman campus, among other priorities.

The proposal is just the first of three that will set the parameters for final budget negotiations in April. The state Senate and House of Representatives convene in January to begin building their proposals.

The governor’s operating budget proposal included the following for WSU.

  • After backing out costs for classified employees, about $20 million of WSU’s $34.5 million request is funded for a cost of living adjustment for faculty, professional staff and graduate students.
  • The proposal fully funded WSU’s $4.4 million request to support reaccreditation efforts at the College of Nursing by providing ongoing funding for recent salary adjustments to bring wages to the 50th percentile of peer institutions and 50th percentile of nurses with similar credentials. Also included in the request are funds for ongoing equipment replacement.
  • The proposal also funds WSU’s nearly $3 million request to establish a new bachelor’s degree program in public health, with a track in behavioral health offered at the Spokane and Vancouver campuses and a track in infectious disease offered in Pullman.
  • Also fully funded is WSU’s $850,000 request for maintenance and operations of the Vancouver Life Sciences Building now under construction.
  • $1.2 million is provided to enhance core support for the Ruckelshaus Center.
  • $10.1 million was provided to reverse a two-decade-old decision to cover some university-wide maintenance and operating costs out of capital budget funds, freeing up those funds to bolster funding for deferred maintenance.
  • $7.7 million is provided to fund the Institute for Northwest Energy Futures at WSU Tri-Cities as announced by the governor in Richland this week. This fully funds a package the governor asked WSU to produce.

Not funded in the proposal was WSU’s request to develop an academic program in social work at WSU Tri-Cities.

The capital budget funded the following priorities for WSU.

  • $50.1 million in minor works funds are provided to support deferred maintenance priorities throughout the WSU system.
  • $6.5 million in minor works funds are provided to support small scale renovations, equipment purchases, and other physical improvements throughout the WSU system.
  • $40 million is provided to match philanthropic dollars to build a new engineering student services building on the Pullman campus.
  • $22 million is provided to renovate parts of Eastlick, Abelson and Bustad halls on the Pullman campus in anticipation of the future replacement of Heald Hall.
  • $8 million is provided for a two-floor renovation of Bustad Hall on the Pullman campus to support the College of Veterinary Medicine’s Simulation-Based Education program.
  • $5 million is provided to support energy efficiency efforts throughout the WSU system.

Not funded were WSU’s requests to support the development of a Team Health Education building at WSU Spokane, start a renovation of the Knott Dairy Center at WSU Pullman, and expand space for remote storage of library collections at WSU Pullman.