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WSU Government Relations Newsbeat

UPDATED: Senate releases operating budget proposal

Leaders in the state Senate today introduced their operating budget proposal that, like the House of Representatives’ plan unveiled earlier, partially funds WSU’s request to support the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine.

WSU requested $14.4 million over the two-year budget cycle and both budgets, like the governor’s, provide $10.8 million over 2019-21 budget cycle.

Funds provided for compensation – for several biennia now funded through a complicated mix of appropriation and tuition – are still being analyzed.

The Senate budget proposal will be heard on Monday afternoon and is scheduled to be voted out of the Ways and Means Committee on Tuesday.

Update: WSU testified on the Senate budget this week. You can view video of the testimony below:

Senate capital budget hits sweet spot for WSU

The capital budget proposal unveiled in the state Senate this morning funds most of WSU’s top priorities.

The governor’s proposal was released in December and the House proposal was introduced Monday. Negotiators will now work to hammer out a compromise to send to the governor’s office. Here’s a rundown of where things stand.

  • The university’s $36.4 million construction request to complete the new home of the Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Lab is now funded in all three budget proposals.
  • The $27 million construction request to build a new academic building at WSU Tri-Cities is now funded in all three proposals.
  • The university’s $500,000 request for pre-design of a new Biomedical and Health Sciences Building at WSU Spokane is also funded in all three proposals.
  • The $4 million request to design a Life Sciences Building at WSU Vancouver was included in the Senate proposal. The governor’s budget also funded the project, but the House budget did not.
  • Both the Senate and House budget proposals included $10 million to support a land purchase to support future growth at WSU Everett.
  • The governor’s budget was the only one to fund WSU’s $4.9 million request for STEM teaching lab renovations in Pullman.

You can view WSU’s testimony on the Senate’s capital budget below.

WADDL, WSU Tri-Cities funded in House capital budget plan

Capital budget writers in the state House of Representatives today unveiled a proposal that fully funds WSU’s two construction priorities — the $36.4 million to complete the Global Animal Health II project in Pullman and $27 million to construct a new academic building at WSU Tri-Cities.

Partial funding was provided by the Legislature last year to begin construction on Global Animal Health II, which will be the new home for the Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Lab. Securing funds to complete the project is WSU’s top capital budget priority.

The WSU Tri-Cities project is needed to help the campus accommodate enrollment growth.

The proposal also included funding for the following.

  • $500,000 in pre-design for the proposed Biomedical and Health Sciences II project at WSU Spokane
  • $10 million to help secure a land purchase in Everett to help WSU Everett plan for future growth
  • $21.4 million for minor capital preservation
  • $9.3 million for minor capital program

Notably missing was WSU’s $4 million request to design a new Life Sciences Building in Vancouver and its $4.9 million request for STEM lab renovations in Pullman.

The Senate will unveil its own version in the days to come before the Legislature negotiates a compromise to send to the governor’s office later this spring.

House operating budget partially funds medical school

The operating budget proposal unveiled today by leaders in the state House of Representatives partially funds WSU’s top priority by providing $10.8 million in core funding for the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine over the 2019-21 biennium.

That would complete funding for the medical school’s original annual cohorts of 60. But it did not provide funding to allow the medical school to begin admitting an additional 20 students beginning this fall as planned. The university’s total operating request for the college is $14.4 million.

The budget proposal also provides funds for compensation adjustments for faculty and non-represented staff, though that was still being analyzed early this afternoon.

The Senate is expected to introduce its own budget proposal in the days to come in time for legislative leaders to agree on a compromise version to send to the governor’s desk by this year’s April 28 scheduled adjournment.

Key state revenue forecast shows further improvement

The state’s Economic and Revenue Forecast Council this morning delivered a quarterly report that increases anticipated tax collections for the remainder of the 2017-19 budget cycle and the new one that begins July 1 by $860 million.

That brings anticipated revenues for the 2019-21 biennium to $50.56 billion, or 9.6 percent higher than in 2017-19. Budget writers in the House and Senate will use these assumptions to write their budget proposals that they’ll begin rolling out next week.

The baseline forecast approved by the council assumes slowing economic growth but does not assume the onset of a recession. It does note that Washington employment projections are a bit lower and that Washington exports are down.

You can find the full report here and the press release from the state budget office here.

Collections up again in advance of key revenue forecast

Tax collections over the past month once again outperformed expectations, delivering a bit of good news leading up to Wednesday’s quarterly revenue forecast that legislative leaders will use to write their budget proposals this spring.

Since the November forecast used by Gov. Jay Inslee to write his proposal, collections are up $171.9 million, or 2.6 percent higher than projected once you back out one-time large payments that are not attributable to economic activity.

The report notes a cooling Seattle housing market and a notable reduction in agricultural exports. You can view the report here.

House approves Washington wine license plate bill to bolster WSU research

A bill that would create a Washington Wine specialty license plate and direct funding to support research at WSU Tri-Cities passed off the House Floor Wednesday afternoon with a vote of 86-9.

HB 2050 would give Washington drivers the option of purchasing a special license plate featuring a landscape display of Washington’s wine regions. Proceeds – expected to be in the region of about $60,000 per year — would go to the Washington Wine Commission to support research and collaboration with the Ste. Michelle Wine Estates WSU Wine Science Center at WSU Tri-Cities.  The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration.

Check out the House floor debate below.

Senate approves HSSA of Spokane County bill

The state Senate yesterday approved legislation reauthorizing the funding mechanism for a key WSU Spokane research partner.

The 12-year-old Health Sciences and Service Authority of Spokane County helps drive funding to support life and health sciences research. For instance, the HSSA is a partner in WSU’s new Gleason Institute for Neuroscience. It has also helped fund the development of laboratory spaces for WSU researchers.

The HSSA’s funding comes from a local sales tax that is credited against the state sales tax. That authority expires Jan. 1, 2023.

Senate Bill 5596, which is supported by WSU, would extend that authority to Jan. 1, 2038. It was approved by the Senate Monday 48-0 and now heads to the House.

You can watch floor debate below.

2019 Future Leaders in Science Recipients

The American Society of Agronomy (ASA), Crop Science Society of America (CSSA) and Soil Science Society of America (SSSA) selected the 2019 ASA, CSSA, and SSSA Future Leaders in Science Award. Halle Choi with the Sustainable Seed Systems Lab of Washington State University was one of 18 graduate students members who received the award in recognition of her interest and engagement in science advocacy. Award winners received a trip to Washington, D.C. to participate in the annual ASA, CSSA, and SSSA Congressional Visits Day on March 5, where they met with their members of Congress to advocate for food, agriculture and natural resources research.

Congrats to Halle Choi and Go Cougs!

Health sciences training bill clears House

A bill to enhance health sciences training opportunities brought by student leaders at WSU Spokane cleared the state House of Representatives 95-0 late Monday afternoon.

House Bill 1726 now heads to the Senate.

Under current law, nursing, pharmacy and medical students taking basic vital signs at health fairs and other such events must be supervised by faculty from their specific discipline. That requirement can limit such opportunities when faculty supervisors can’t be scheduled.

The bill approved Monday would allow supervision for all students by a single faculty member from any one of the disciplines. It is being supported not only by students but WSU itself as well as the state Nurses Association.

Watch the video below to see the House Floor Debate on HB 1726: