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WSU Government Relations connor.haggerty

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.

Medical equity training bill advances

A bill that would require public medical schools in Washington to adopt health equity curriculum for their students cleared the Senate Ways and Means Committee today.

Senate Bill 5228, sponsored by Senator Emily Randall, requires the state’s two public medical schools to establish such curriculum that may include instruction on relating to health disparities, intercultural communication skills training, cultural safety training, and implicit bias. The bill also requires them to create a goal regarding student representation and report progress on that goal annually. WSU already is in compliance with the curriculum requirements in the bill and is supporting the measure.

“In just our fourth year of instruction, WSU’s Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine is uniquely positioned having just developed a modern curriculum that we’re now calibrating,” WSU Director of State Relations Chris Mulick told the Senate Higher Education and Workforce Development Committee last month. “We develop a modern curriculum that is heavy on empathy for patients, whoever they are.”

The Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine’s curriculum already includes components relating to bias, racism in medicine, sexism in medicine, health equity in population health, navigating bias in the workplace, LGBTQ health disparities, ethics of access to health care, caring for patients with disabilities, and health literacy and language barriers.

5228 now heads to the Senate Rules Committee where it can be pulled to the chamber floor for a vote. You can watch Mulick’s full testimony here (beginning at 2:00:08).

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!