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WSU Government Relations Newsbeat

Governor Signs Capital, Operating & Transportation Budgets

Gov. Jay Inslee signed three budget bills during a ceremony yesterday, which were passed by state lawmakers late last month and provide funding for a number of WSU priorities and projects.

The capital budget includes robust funding for minor works projects, a match for philanthropic funds to construct a new engineering building in Pullman, and a renovation to parts of Eastlick, Abelson and Bustad halls, in addition to other key infrastructure projects in the WSU system. You can find more on what the capital budget does for WSU here.

The operating budget provides resources for WSU’s request to enhance nursing salaries. It also provides funding for new academic programs in social work and public health and partially funds the university’s request to fund a cost of living adjustment. You can read more about what the operating budget does for WSU here.

Governor signs data equity bill into law

Gov. Jay Inslee signed Senate Bill 5593 yesterday afternoon, which will help high school students learn more about postsecondary education opportunities. The bill directs the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) to establish data sharing agreements with higher education institutions in the state.

Currently, the state’s public colleges and universities can inform students about postsecondary opportunities by utilizing contact information they provide when taking a collegiate entrance exam. Under the new law, OSPI will transfer contact information provided in high school directories directly to institutions of higher education through the data sharing agreements, ensuring all students can be informed about programs and colleges and universities and increasing equity by providing information to those who might have considered postsecondary education attainable or affordable.

Sen. Marko Liias sponsored the bill which was supported by WSU throughout the legislative session.

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.

Transportation agreement funds Snohomish SAF R&D Center

The compromise state transportation budget unveiled by legislative leaders today provides $6.5 million in seed funding for a new sustainable aviation fuels research and development center at Everett’s Paine Field. WSU will be the research partner in the project.

The center was announced last month and funding was inserted into the Senate’s transportation proposal. The agreement announced Friday is expected to be approved by both the House and Senate and sent to the governor’s office prior to the Legislature’s scheduled Sunday adjournment of this year’s legislative session.

Already, WSU tests small samples of experimental jet fuel in labs at WSU Tri-Cities to determine which warrant further study. The state funding will be used in part to design a facility to test experimental fuels at a jet engine scale at Paine Field. Once designed, federal funds could be sought to pursue construction.

The state funds also would support the development of a first-of-its-kind fuel bank to store experimental fuels supplied by companies across the world.

Capital budget agreement scores big for WSU

Legislative leaders on Friday released a 2023-25 capital budget agreement that fully funds almost the entire WSU request. It includes the following:

  • $40 million for minor works preservation projects to address deferred maintenance needs across the WSU system.
  • $13 million for minor works program projects across the WSU system to fund small scale renovation and equipment purchases.
  • $40 million to match philanthropic funds to build a new student services building for the Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture in Pullman.
  • $22 million to renovate parts of Eastlick, Abelson and Bustad halls on the Pullman campus in anticipation of the future replacement of Heald Hall.
  • $7 million to design a new Team Health Education Building at WSU Spokane to provide simulation training space for health sciences students.
  • $10 million to begin a renovation of the Knott Dairy Center in Pullman.
  • $8 million to renovate two floors of Bustad Hall in Pullman to support the College of Veterinary Medicine’s Simulation-Based Education program.
  • $5 million to support efforts to meet the state’s new clean building standards.

In addition, $1 million was provided to support improvements at WSU’s Lind Dryland Research Station and the Irrigated Agriculture Research and Extension Center in Prosser. The only project not funded was a $10 million space optimization project for the Pullman campus to consolidate library collections and free up space in the core of campus to be repurposed.

The House and Senate are expected to approve the negotiated agreement and send it to the governor for signature before Sunday’s scheduled adjournment of the 2023 legislative session.

Chancellors, President highlight WSU’s federal priorities in nation’s capital

WSU leaders meeting with U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers
WSU leaders meeting with U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers

WSU Chancellors from across the system and President Kirk Schulz gathered in Washington, D.C. this week to meet with members of the state’s Congressional delegation and staff, coalition partners and other stakeholders to highlight the university’s federal priorities and campus initiatives.

WSU leaders meeting with U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen
WSU leaders meeting with U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen

“This visit was a unique opportunity for our Congressional leaders, the Biden Administration, and our federal partners to hear directly from WSU leadership about what we’re hoping to achieve in coming years — both as a system, and for each of our individual campuses,” said President Schulz. “We are fortunate to be represented in Washington by leaders that understand the importance of higher education and the investment in federal research supporting our students, faculty, and the state of Washington.”

President Schulz was joined by Provost and Pullman Chancellor Elizabeth Chilton, Spokane Chancellor and Executive Vice President for Health Sciences Daryll DeWald, Tri-Cities Chancellor Sandra Haynes, Everett Chancellor Paul Pitre, and Global Campus Chancellor Dave Cillay.

The group discussed opportunities stemming from the recently passed CHIPS and Science Act, the nation’s largest-ever federal investment in supporting the growth of the domestic semiconductor industry, workforce development and research & development. WSU’s top tier research systemwide will be highly competitive for this funding.

WSU leaders meeting with U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell
WSU leaders meeting with U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell

Opportunities to support student success in the classroom were also covered in the meetings — how leadership can work together to ensure WSU’s mission of access as the state’s land-grant research university, and ensure college remains accessible and affordable. The university’s affordability metrics are improving on all fronts, and yet many prospective students and their parents remain unaware of the financial support available to them.

WSU leaders meeting with Congressman Dan Newhouse
WSU leaders meeting with Congressman Dan Newhouse

The Chancellors highlighted the continued need for federal support in providing mental health care for WSU’s students, faculty, and staff across the system. The focus was on WSU’s role in providing services at its campuses and training the workforce to meet the needs of communities in rural and underserved communities across Washington. Those living in rural areas are disproportionately at risk due to a lack of access to mental health care and greater stigmatization when seeking treatment. WSU received federal funding in FY2023 to assess the mental healthcare needs in 13 rural and underserved counties in Eastern Washington. This funding will help WSU determine how best to train the mental health workforce to provide services to these communities.

The Chancellors and President also provided updates on additional WSU research priorities including developments in health sciences, clean energy, and advanced manufacturing. The Chancellors highlighted state support being considered for the Institute for Northwest Energy Futures, a center to help address the increasing demands for resilient, affordable, and available low-carbon electricity and transportation fuels. If funded, this project will support eight faculty researchers, graduate students, and staff as well as a facility to house the institute headquarters near the WSU Tri-Cities campus.

WSU Spokane Chancellor Daryll DeWald speaking with U.S. Senator Patty Murray
WSU Spokane Chancellor Daryll DeWald speaking with U.S. Senator Patty Murray

The Chancellors also discussed the growing work in sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) across the system focusing on the new SAF research and development center proposed for Everett’s Paine Field. The Legislature is considering a $6.5 million appropriation to provide seed funding to develop a SAF fuel bank and testing facility for Paine Field.  Working with local stakeholders, this facility will test experimental fuels at a jet engine scale, representing the next frontier of testing before commercialization. Small samples are currently tested at WSU Tri-Cities.

The group also met with leaders from the Department of Education, the Education Trust, and The Science Coalition, as well as a delegation from the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Portland Chamber while in D.C.

Washington hosts National Science Foundation Director, outlines historic research funding opportunities for WSU

This week, Dr. Sethuraman Panchanathan, director of the National Science Foundation (NSF), traveled to Seattle and Spokane to get an inside look at the important scientific research and innovation happening across the state, and share how newly approved federal funding can help support these efforts.

The visit was organized by Senator Maria Cantwell, a main architect of the CHIPS and Science Act, which authorized historic levels of funding for federal science agencies—funding researchers at WSU rely on to support efforts across the system.

Kicking off the tour in Seattle, Director Panchanathan met with leaders from the state’s higher education institutions, including Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture Dean Mary Rezac and Vice President for Research Chris Keane, to hear about their aspirations for the CHIPS and Science Act, with a focus on inventing the next generation of technologies and training the future workforce.

“CHIPS and Science sets up an opportunity for the Pacific Northwest to focus on what we do very, very well—leverage our strengths for future economic growth and for our students,” Dean Rezac said.

The Dean highlighted the urgent need for more tech-trained workers and echoed the importance of this new federal funding to support a diverse and highly trained future workforce—one that represents the diversity of the state.
The next day in Spokane, Eastern Washington leaders shared their experience with NSF grants and aspirations around the increased opportunities through CHIPS and Science.

Spokane Chancellor Daryll DeWald, College of Arts and Sciences Dean Todd Butler, Senior Vice Provost Laura Hill, and Vice President for Research Chris Keane all joined the Director for a full day of tours and discussions.

WSU’s Office of Federal Relations continues to advocate for this critical federal funding in support of research priorities for the system, campuses, and colleges.  If you are interested in learning more, please reach out to the Office of Federal Relations at and

Tuition could be set sooner under new law

A bill signed by the governor today will require the state’s budget office to calculate a key metric in determining tuition rates at public colleges and universities sooner.

SB 5079 directs the Office of Financial Management to calculate the maximum allowable increase in tuition in October of each year, instead of when it is currently calculated in March. With that calculation coming sooner, colleges and universities have the ability to set tuition sooner which helps prospective students know what their cost of attendance will be before they apply to college.

WSU has supported this bill throughout the legislative session. You can view the Governor signing the bill below.

WSU Athletic Director testifies before Congress, urging for a NIL federal standard.

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) and Innovation, Data, and Commerce Subcommittee Chair Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) held a subcommittee hearing surrounding Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) this morning.

WSU Director of Athletics Pat Chun testified this morning urging Congress to develop federal standards that provide transparency and enforceable safeguards to mitigate the negative impact of the existing patchwork NIL environment.  In his testimony Chun touches on the detrimental impacts of current NIL standards and Title IX efforts.

“The notion that a student-athlete could be fired for underperformance undermines the very core of the educational mission. Additionally, transitioning to employment status could erode many of the benefits and guarantees that student-athletes currently receive through potential tax implications. Lastly, if one group of student-athletes becomes employees, such as those in high revenue-producing sports, demands and legal claims could be made that all student-athletes should become employees. The financial impact could lead to the reduction of opportunities for broad-based participation on campuses around the country, resulting in significant Title IX implications threatening generations of hard-fought progress in women’s sports.”

In her opening statement, Congresswoman McMorris Rodgers called out Pat’s leadership in this issue:

“I’d also like to thank Pat Chun, the Athletic Director of Washington State University for testifying before us today—Go Cougs!  At every level, from his work at WSU to his various roles with the NCAA, Pat has taken a leadership role on NIL.”

As background, collegiate athletes previously have been prohibited from receiving compensation for their NIL. This debate on allowing NIL at the college level recently resurfaced as a series of court cases began to answer this question in favor of student athletes. Currently the NCAA rules have been updated to allow NIL. However a lack of nationwide standards has caused problems, making fair competition elusive and raising concerns on consumer protection. There is no federal standard for NIL, only an uneven patchwork of state of laws.

You can view Pat’s remarks below.

Witness invited to testify alongside Pat included:

Jennifer Heppel, Commissioner, Patriot League

Dr. Makola M. Abdullah, Ph.D., President, Virginia State University

Trey Burton, Former National Football League player

Kaley Mudge, Student Athlete, Florida State University

Jason Stahl, Executive Director and Founder, College Football Players Association

Senate transportation budget funds WSU, Snohomish County SAF partnership

The transportation budget proposal announced today by leaders in the state Senate provides $6.5 million to serve as seed funding for a new sustainable aviation fuels research and development center at Everett’s Paine Field.

Snohomish County and WSU announced a new SAF partnership at a Tuesday press conference at Paine Field attended by an array of representatives from the county, university, industry and civic leaders.

WSU will serve as the research partner in the collaboration and brings a rich history of leadership in this space. The university has researchers from eight programs in three university colleges across its six-campus system working on SAF-related research. Together, with the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, WSU co-leads the WSU-PNNL Bioproducts Institute. WSU and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology also co-lead ASCENT, a national consortium of research universities, government agencies, national labs, and private entities convened by the Federal Aviation Administration.

The collaboration at Paine Field will have two primary components. It will create a fuel bank to store thousands of gallons of experimental jet fuels that, when combined with other university assets, will form the world’s first SAF repository with data management, storage, and distribution. In effect, the repository will do for SAF development what seed banks do for agricultural research. It will be the only facility capable of collecting, sampling, and distributing SAF on a large enough scale to be used in large aircraft.

Second, it will include a facility capable of testing experimental fuels on a jet-engine scale. The state funding is intended to serve as a precursor for a future request of the federal government to complete construction of new facilities required at Paine Field.

Paine Field is an ideal location for the SAF R&D Center due to its proximity to the production of medium- and long-haul aircraft; these aircraft account for 73 percent of all carbon emissions in aviation. Commercial aviation’s continued success is dependent on reducing the industry’s carbon emissions, which contribute to global climate change.

Dr. Joshua Heyne, a leading SAF expert and director of the Bioproducts, Sciences, and Engineering Laboratory at WSU Tri-Cities noted the significant impact of this applied research in the region and how WSU is a global leader in this research field.

“Washington state’s leadership in aviation and the environment was one of the reasons I moved across the country to join WSU. Here, the state is supporting efforts to meet global challenges while complementing existing strengths. WSU research has enabled the inception of global policies and new technologies to benefit state agricultural and industrial activities from Pullman to Everett. We are proud to partner with Snohomish County, our state Legislature, and industry partners to once again meet a global need with local interests.”

The Legislature will ultimately approve a compromise transportation budget to send to the governor in time for the scheduled April 23rd adjournment.