The operating budget compromise unveiled by legislative leaders Saturday afternoon fully funds WSU’s requests to support nursing salaries, establish new academic programs in social work and public health, and partially funds the university’s request to fund a cost of living adjustment.

The House and Senate are poised to approve the agreement and complete their business in time for the scheduled Sunday adjournment of the 2023 legislative session.

The operating budget agreement, which also needs approval from the governor, would do the following:

  • Compensation: After fully funding non-represented classified employee COLAs of 4 and 3 percent in fiscal year 2024 and 2025, the final operating budget provides resources that would be sufficient to fund a 2.2 percent increase in fiscal year 2024 and a 1.6 percent enhancement in fiscal year 2025 for faculty, graduate students and professional staff.
  • Nursing Salary Enhancement: The budget fully funds WSU’s $3.9 million request to provide ongoing funding to support nursing salary enhancements implemented by the university last fall. Another $500,000 in one-time funds are provided for nursing equipment.
  • Social Work degree: The agreement fully funded the requested $1.6 million to establish a four-plus-one bachelor’s plus master’s degree at WSU Tri-Cities.
  • Public Health degree: The requested $2.5 million is funded to establish a public health degree with an infectious disease track in Pullman and a behavioral health track for Spokane and Vancouver.
  • Ruckelshaus Center: $1.2 million was provided for core support for the Ruckelshaus Center.
  • Institute for Northwest Energy Futures: Also funded was the governor’s $7.7 million request to establish the Institute for Northwest Energy Futures in the Tri-Cities.
  • WSU Everett: $500,000 is provided in the UW budget to establish a MESA program at WSU Everett. UW is the MESA fiscal agent.
  • Native American Scholarship Program: $1.2 million is provided to establish a unique scholarship program at WSU.
  • Journalism Fellowship Program: $2.4 million is provided to establish this two-year fellowship program run by the Murrow College.
  • Maddie’s Place: $190,000 is provided in the Health Care Authority budget to fund a WSU assessment of the prevalence of neonatal abstinence syndrome and the efficacy of transitional facilities. This is a joint collaboration between our researchers in Spokane and Maddie’s Place, a Spokane-based transitional facility for infants who suffer from prenatal substance exposure and their mothers.
  • Turfgrass research: $695,000 in one time funds are provided to study and design “soil infill types for regional locations, drainage and management practices.”
  • Assorted assignments: WSU also received small amounts of one-time funds to conduct an agriculture competitiveness study, hire a contractor to review the state’s wolf management strategies, conduct a wind turbine blade recycling study, have the Ruckelshaus Center lead a jail modernization task force, and support a pumped storage siting project.