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WSU Government Relations connor.haggerty

Transportation budget moves up critical SR 26 improvements

The transportation budget approved by the Legislature over the weekend and sent to the governor’s desk advances the schedule for previously funded safety improvements on State Route 26 between Dusty and Colfax.

With safety for WSU students and others traveling across the state to and from the Pullman campus in mind, the Legislature in 2017 approved $11.15 million in the transportation budget to construct new climbing lanes. Construction was slated to occur in two stages. Some of it was to occur during the 2023-25 biennium and the bulk of it was to occur during the 2025-27 biennium.

But legislative leaders — at the urging of WSU student leadership – advanced that schedule in this year’s transportation budget so that all construction will occur in the 2019-21 biennium that commences July 1.

This represents a significant enhancement that will improve safety for everyone driving to and from WSU.

Governor signs WSU-supported animal research bill

Gov. Jay Inslee this afternoon signed into law a bill requiring higher education institutions that use dogs and cats for research offer the animals up for adoption before considering euthanasia.

Senate Bill 5212 was passed out of both the Senate and the House unanimously, with stakeholder support from the University of Washington, Washington State University, and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. WSU has used cats and dogs in research projects related to pharmacology, nutrition, orthopedics, arthritis and cancer therapy, helping to improve overall animal health and comfort.

The legislation was sponsored by Senator Guy Palumbo, D-Maltby, who serves as Chair on the Senate Higher Education & Workforce Development Committee and operates his own dog boarding business in South Snohomish County.

Under the bill, any animal made available for adoption would first be assessed by a university’s attending veterinarian to determine suitability for adoption. The bill does not preclude universities from using research animals for other educational uses before making them available for adoption.

Sen. Palumbo, Zoey, and Gov. Inslee

State budgets meet WSU priorities

The Legislature adjourned its 2019 session just before midnight Sunday, having approved budget compromises. Most notably, the Legislature fully funded WSU’s $14.4 million request for core funding to support the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine.

The operating budget package completes funding for the College of Medicine’s existing cohorts of 60 students per year as well while also funding first- and second-year instruction for an additional 20 students, allowing the college to admit 80 students this fall. This request was WSU’s top legislative priority.

We are working jointly with the Budget Office on a comprehensive analyst. In the meantime, here is an overview:

Operating budget:

  • ESFCOM $14.4 million
  • Comp and Central Services Support (Foundational Support) 5.353 million
  • Clean energy legislation (WSU Energy Program) $1.411 million
  • Maintenance and operations for new buildings FY20 $383,000, FY21 $1.06 million
  • Children’s mental health legislation $264,000
  • Domestic Violence legislation $173,000
  • Opioid overdose medication legislation $53,000
  • Soil Health Initiative $500,000

Capital budget:

  • $36.4 million to complete construction of the Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Lab in Pullman
  • $27 million to construct a new academic building at WSU Tri-Cities
  • $500,000 for pre-design of a new Biomedical and Health Sciences Building at WSU Spokane
  • $10 million to support a land purchase to support future growth at WSU Everett
  • $21.4 million for minor works preservation
  • $5.328 million for minor works program (MCI & omnibus equipment). Funded for the first time in ten-years

The capital budget agreement did not fund WSU’s $4 million request to design a Life Sciences Building at WSU Vancouver.

In general, this was a very good year for Washington State University in the biennial budget process. We appreciate the support and leadership of the Washington State Legislature.

Go Cougs!