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WSU nursing, social work, public health initiatives funded by operating budget agreement

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.

WSU, faculty, students declare support for Native American Scholarship bill

WSU was represented in force today at the state House Postsecondary Education and Workforce Committee hearing with the university, faculty and students all registering support for House Bill 1399 to establish a Native American Scholarship Program.

The bill, if funded in the biennial budget the governor will sign this spring, would provide funds equal to resident tuition and fees to eligible applicants who are members of a federally-recognized Indian tribe, fill out a financial aid application, and enroll in a Washington college, university or apprenticeship program. If students have secured additional aid to cover tuition, the scholarship can be used for other cost-of-attendance expenses.

Zoë Higheagle Strong, WSU’s Vice Provost for Native American Relations and Programs and the university’s Tribal Liaison to the President, told the committee the bill will give back and provide generational impact on communities.

“There is a Nez Perce word ‘pinee tipits’ which means ‘reciprocal giving – making sure everyone is taking care of,’ Higheagle Strong said, herself a Nez Perce tribal citizen. “This deep meaning of reciprocity represents a strong value that native people hold on to and why I believe that when we invest in native students and communities that Washington state will greatly benefit as we increase the number of native people in the work force.”

You can view Higheagle Strong’s testimony below.


Steve Bollens, WSU’s faculty representative to the Legislature and a professor in the School of Biological Sciences, told the committee that “after two centuries of repression, discrimination and unjust treatment, providing increased opportunities for native American students to enter higher education is simply the right thing to do.”

You can view Bollens’ testimony below.


Collin Bannister, Director of Legislative Affairs for the Associated Students of WSU, signed in supporting the bill on behalf of WSU students.

WSU testifies on governor’s proposed operating budget

WSU Senior Director of State Relations Chris Mulick testified on the governor’s proposed operating budget at two hearings last week, flagging concerns about compensation but praising investments in nursing, public health and energy research.

WSU urges the legislature to support the University’s top priority – cost-of-living adjustments for faculty, staff and graduate students. In his testimony, Mulick pointed out “the funding in this budget is sufficient to provide COLAs of just 2.5 percent and 1.3 percent for fiscal year 2024 and  fiscal year 2025.” He further clarified the delta between that and the 4 percent and 3 percent advertised in budget documents is “explained by the assumption that there will be new tuition revenue to cover that gap. Unfortunately that tuition revenue is just not there.”

The governor’s proposed operating budget would include support for nursing reaccreditation, establish a new bachelor’s degree program in public health, covers maintenance and operations of the Vancouver Life Sciences Building, a new energy research center at WSU Tri-Cities and provides funds to enhance core support for Ruckelshaus Center among other proposals.

Washington State University has identified cost-of-living adjustments for faculty, staff and graduate students as its top priority in advance of the 2023 legislative session and has submitted a number of other requests to support high demand degree production and the university’s physical infrastructure. You can find WSU’s 2023 legislative agenda here.

You can find WSU’s testimony on the governor’s operating budget below.

WSU testifies on governor’s proposed capital budget

During a committee meeting of the Senate Ways & Means committee last Thursday, WSU testified on the governor’s proposed capital budget noting the historic deferred maintenance support, the matching of state dollars to philanthropic giving, while noting two projects that went unfunded.

Those omitted projects included the renovation of the Knott Dairy at WSU Pullman and the design of a simulation space in the Team Health Building at WSU Spokane. In testimony, WSU Assistant Director of State Relations Connor Haggerty asked legislators to “reference WSU’s request as you build your budget to help keep the university’s priorities in order.”

The budget did provide a strong minor works preservation investment, which would allow the university to address deferred maintenance projects throughout the system. It also matched philanthropic support to construct a new engineering student services building in Pullman. It also provided funding to design a new science building and renovate parts of three others to accommodate it.

You can find WSU’s testimony on the governor’s capital budget below:

Omnibus appropriations bill considered by Congress

An appropriations bill that would provide $1.7 trillion for the federal government through the fiscal year 2023 was put forward Tuesday morning, proposing funding for a number of WSU priorities. The Senate hopes to consider the bill by Thursday with time for the House to consider it before the end of the week.

WSU was successful in securing two earmarks this year. The first is to support improvements at our BSL 3 Lab in Pullman and the second is to support a mental health assessment in 13 rural counties in eastern Washington so we can create a program that will train providers for these underserved communities.  It was a lengthy and arduous process where we learned a lot and are ready to expand this program to our five campuses for FY 2024.

The document here details the WSU priorities funded in the bill. The following is a brief overview of what else was funded in the proposed bill:


  • Agricultural Research: The bill provides more than $3.7 billion for agricultural research programs. This includes $1.74 billion for the Agricultural Research Service and $1.7 billion for the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, including a $10 million increase for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI). This funding will support investments in the research and development of new technologies and varieties to improve the productivity, sustainability, and quality of American agriculture. The bill also fully funds the continued establishment of the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility.
  • Rural Development (RD): The bill provides $4 billion to support RD’s mission areas, including $348 million for the ReConnect Broadband Pilot, $64.9 million for Distance learning and Telemedicine grants, and $1.48 billion for rental assistance for affordable rental housing for low-income families and the elderly in rural communities. The bill also provides $430 million in grants and $1.47 billion in loan authority for rural water and waste programs, including up to $20 million in loans for distressed communities. In addition, the bill provides $30 billion in loan authority for the Single-Family Housing guaranteed loan program, and $1.84 billion in grants and loans for rural business and industry programs that promote small business growth in rural areas.

Science: The omnibus bill provides $1.8 billion in new funding to implement the bipartisan CHIPS and Science Act of 2022, including funding for the Economic Development Administration’s Innovation HUBS and RECOMPETE program, the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership program and the Manufacturing USA program, and funding for the National Science Foundation.

NSF: NSF received about a billion more over FY22 levels, almost a 12% increase. A portion ($335m) of funding is dedicated to CHIPS and Science implementation. All of the funding increase (over FY22 enacted) is through emergency supplemental spending. The total appropriated to NSF is $9.87B which is baseline funding for NSF at $8.84 B and an additional $1.04B in the supplemental (funding Ukraine activities) which Senator Cantwell likely put in.

NASA: $25.016 billion, an increase of $975 million over the FY22 enacted level. The bill provides:

  • $7.5 billion, an increase of $677 million, for human exploration activities related to returning U.S. astronauts to the Moon.
  • $2.6 billion for the Space Launch System (SLS), $1.34 billion for Orion, and $799 million for associated ground systems to maintain progress for the Artemis program. The bill also enables the development of the more capable Block 1B version of SLS; and provides $1.486 billion for lunar landing systems to enable the selection of the landers that will take astronauts to the surface of the Moon.
  • $144 million for NASA’s STEM education programs.
  • $935 million for Aeronautics programs, research, and X-plane development.
  • $7.8 billion for ongoing science missions, including the Roman telescope and robotic missions to explore the Moon and Mars.


  • Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy – $3.46 billion, an increase of $260 million above FY22 enacted and $558.8 billion below the President’s budget request.
  • Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response – $200 million, an increase of $14.19 million above FY22 enacted and $2.1 million below the request.
  • Electricity – $350 million, an increase of $73 million above FY22 enacted and $52 million above the request.
  • Nuclear Energy – $1.473 billion, including $85 million for the Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program.
  • Office of Science – $8.1 billion, an increase of $625 million above FY22 enacted and $300 million above the request.
  • Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy [ARPA-E] – $470 million, $20 million above FY22 enacted levels for ARPA-E to continue to support innovative, advanced research and development projects.

NEH/NEA: National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) – Each Endowment receives $207 million, a $27 million increase above the FY22 enacted level.

Health Related Programs:

National Institutes of Health – $47.5 billion, an increase of $2.5 billion.

  • Alzheimer’s: The bill includes an increase of $226 million for Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia research, bringing total funding to $3.74 billion.
  • Cancer: The bill includes $7.32 billion for the National Cancer Institute, including full funding for the STAR Act, Childhood Cancer Data Registry, and an increase of $150 million for competitive cancer grants.
  • ALS: The bill includes $75 million, an increase of $50 million, for Accelerating Access to Critical Therapies for ALS (ACT for ALS).

Opioid Epidemic – $4.9 billion, an increase of $296.7 million, to combat the opioid epidemic.

  • Funds are targeted toward improving treatment and prevention efforts; finding alternative pain medications; workforce needs, especially in our rural communities; research; and treating behavioral health.
  • Importantly, the bill gives states flexibility to use opioid response funds on stimulants across multiple government programs. In the last year, the number of drug overdose deaths exceeded 100,000 lives, emphasizing the need to continue these critical investments.

Mental Health – $5.27 billion, an increase of $803.2 million, for mental health research, treatment, and prevention, including:

  • $385 million, an increase of $70 million, for Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics;
  • $512 million for SAMHSA suicide prevention activities, including $439.6 million for the recently launched 9-8-8 Suicide Lifeline, in addition to $62 million provided in P.L. 117-180; o $1.01 billion, an increase of $150 million, for the Mental Health Block Grant;
  • $2.34 billion, an increase of $120.9 million, for the National Institute of Mental Health, which includes targeted funding for research related to social media’s impact on mental health; and
  • $111 million for school-based mental health grants at the Department of Education.

HHS Preparedness – The agreement includes $950 million to support advanced research and development of medical countermeasures at BARDA, an increase of $205 million; $965 million for the Strategic National Stockpile, an increase of $120 million; and $335 million for pandemic influenza preparedness, an increase of $35 million.


  • Pell Maximum Award – The agreement includes a $500 increase to the maximum Pell award for a total of $7,395 for the 2023-2024 school year.
  • Higher Education:
    • TRIO: $1.19 billion, an increase of $54 million
    • GEAR UP: $388 million, an increase of $10 million.
    • Corporation for Public Broadcasting: $535 million in advance funding for FY25, an increase of $10 million. The bill also provides $60 million for the public broadcasting interconnection system.


Global Health Programs – a total of $10.6 billion to bolster global health and prevent future pandemics. $4.2 billion of this funding is for USAID, and $6.4 billion is for the State Department. We are still looking into how this is going to be allocated to the WSU program.




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.

Governor announces support for clean energy institute during visit to WSU Tri-Cities

In a press conference this afternoon, Governor Jay Inslee expressed his support for the Institute for Northwest Energy Futures (INEF) which WSU Tri-Cities would operate. The governor is previewing his budget priorities for the 2023-2025 biennium this week, culminating in his budget proposal to state lawmakers later in the week. He shared his intent to seek legislative support for state funding for INEF.

INEF’s mission is to address the increasing demand for clean energy by providing objective research and analysis that takes a systems approach to integrate new technologies with old. The Governor noted WSU’s multi-disciplinary approach to research, which will help generate what Inslee called “the number 1 source of renewable energy – innovation.”

WSU Tri-Cities Chancellor Sandra Haynes shared that the Institute will be strategically based in the Mid-Columbia region, which is home to various clean energy sources including hydro, nuclear, wind, solar and biomass. “There are many other inventive companies in the area focused on energy, including utilities, and of course, the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.” The governor observed that the Tri-Cities is already home to considerable engineering talent, “we need to put it to work” he shared.

Lawmakers convene the second week of January for the 2023 legislative session where they will contemplate the governor’s budget proposal. The state House and Senate will each present a proposal of their own later in the session before agreeing on a compromised final budget.

WSU testifies on nursing salary enhancements

Legislators descended on Olympia this week to convene a series of work sessions, meeting in person for committee activity for the first time since March 2020. In the Senate Higher Education & Workforce Development Committee, Washington State University presented during a discussion on the nursing workforce shortage regarding a funding ask to support the College of Nursing’s reaccreditation effort.

Just as the state faces a shortage of nurses, WSU is wrestling with retaining faculty and staff producing nursing degrees. Until recently, faculty and staff salaries in the College of Nursing have been at the 25th percentile of peer institutions and 25th percentile among nurses with similar credentials. The university used reserve funding to temporarily cover a salary enhancement, but on Thursday articulated the need for state funding to pay for it on an ongoing basis.

You can watch WSU’s testimony on TVW at the link below:




Operating budget funds compensation increase, cybersecurity programming, pharmacy residency program

Leaders in the House and Senate this evening approved a supplemental operating budget agreement that funds a series of WSU priorities and sent it to the governor.

The two chambers’ compromise provides $7.5 million for compensation enhancements. It improved upon the formula used to fund such increases consisting of a mix of new appropriation and tuition revenue. Such funding splits most recently have been 53 percent new appropriation and 47 percent tuition. This year’s budget improves that ratio to 65 percent new appropriation and 35 percent tuition, recognizing the formula has been frustrated when new tuition revenues don’t materialize as total enrollment ebbs and flows.

The budget compromise also provides $2.1 million for WSU to establish a new academic degree in Cybersecurity Operations at the Pullman, Tri-Cities and Everett campuses. It will be offered by the Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture. A second cybersecurity proposal — a new Information Assurance major to Business Administration degree offered by the Carson College of Business — was not funded.

The compromise also provides funding for WSU to develop a one-year psychiatric and behavioral health residency program in Eastern Washington. The state’s $341,000 investment will allow WSU to develop a program with two residents a year providing care to patients in clinical settings, specifically in Eastern Washington where access to behavioral health services is limited. The advocacy effort was a cooperation with the University of Washington which will establish a similar program.

The budget also funds a series of other priorities involving WSU, including an array of assignments brought by legislators.

  • House Bill 1622 directs the WSU College of Nursing to provide training for nurses seeking to become certified as Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners. The budget provided $122,000 in annual funding to implement it.
  • The budget provides an additional $608,000 per year in core support for the Washington State Academy of Sciences, for which WSU is the fiscal agent.
  • Costs to implement apprenticeship and anti-hazing legislation are fully funded.
  • Funding for WSU research or work group assignments is provided for stormwater, an agricultural symbiosis initiative, community solar projects, energy code education, catalytic converter theft policy, and policy associated with towing vehicles used by homeless individuals as a residence.

The operating budget compromise now goes to the governor for his signature. Today is the final day of this year’s 2022 legislative session and adjournment is expected by midnight.

Budget agreement completes funding for WSU medical school

House and Senate budget writers unveiled their operating budget agreement for the 2021-23 biennium Saturday afternoon, providing the final tranche of funding to complete core funding for the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine.

The budget appropriates $3.6 million in the two-year budget to support third- and fourth-year instruction for the 20-seat expansion authorized in 2019. This completes an seven-year legislative campaign to authorize and fund the college.

The compromise budget also $656,000 for maintenance and operation of the new WSU Tri-Cities academic building.

Another $2.1 million was provided for the Washington Soil Health Initiative, originally funded by the Legislature last year but vetoed by the governor to curb spending at the outset of the pandemic.

The compromise budget awaits a vote by both legislative chambers before Sunday’s scheduled adjournment.

The Legislature unveiled its compromised capital budget Thursday and you can read about it here.