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WSU Government Relations Newsbeat

WSU testifies in support of Governor’s proposed operating budget

Washington State University issued its support of the Governor’s 2019-2021 biennial operating budget proposal during a hearing before the Senate Ways & Means Committee Tuesday evening.

The budget proposal, put forth by Governor Inslee back in December, includes $10.8 million to complete funding for third and fourth year instruction of the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine’s original class of 60 medical school students per cohort. The university is seeking an additional $3.6 million to support a planned growth to 80 students per cohort in Fall 2019 — though the governor’s budget contains other funds that could support that — as demand for specialists in core health sector disciplines across rural Washington continues to rise.

Additionally, the Governor’s proposal includes $15.4 million in compensation funding for WSU faculty and staff, $2.8 million to support a soil health research and Extension initiative, and expands the Washington College Promise Scholarship (formerly the State Need Grant) to serve an additional 6,000 students in the 2019-20 academic year, and an additional 12,000 students in 2020-21.

The Senate will consider testimony from last night’s hearing as they begin drafting their own budget proposal over the next month.

You can watch WSU’s testimony below.

USDA ReConnect Program Announced

The ReConnect Program is a new pilot program that offers unique federal financing and funding options in the form of loans, grants, and loan/grant combinations to facilitate broadband deployment in areas of rural America that don’t currently have sufficient access to broadband. This pilot program hopes to generate private sector investment to deploy broadband infrastructure to provide high-speed internet e-Connectivity to as many rural premises as possible. With this program, USDA is offering $600 million in loans and grants through a new initiative to help expand access to broadband in underserved rural areas. The program will prioritize projects that seek to deliver higher-speed connections to rural homes, businesses and farms. Projects funded under the ReConnect Program must create access speeds of at least 25 megabits per second upload and 3 mbps download. Projects must also serve populations of fewer than 20,000 people, with grants expected to be awarded to more sparsely populated areas.

USDA Rural Development will host a series of informational webinars and workshops to provide more information on the ReConnect Program.

Please visit USDA Reconnect for up-to-date information on these events.

For further information, please note the following attachments;

USDA ReConnect Webinar Flyer

USDA ReConnect Program Factsheet

ReConnect Program FAQ

2018 Farm Bill Update

Good Afternoon Cougs –

The 2018 Farm Bill has been sent to the President’s desk for signature and we expect him to sign the bill next week. This marks the first time since 1990 that a Farm Bill will be enacted in the same year that it was introduced. The conference report, which reconciles the differences between the House bill and the Senate bill, passed the House by a margin of 369-47 and the Senate by 87-13, indicating overwhelming support for the 2018 Farm Bill.

You will recall that Washington State University is a major recipient of USDA funds. We are pleased to relay that this Farm Bill represents a tremendous success for WSU and for the State of Washington. The majority of our priorities were well taken care of in the compromise bill. Attached is an overview of WSU priorities and the outcome, overview documents from the House Agriculture committee, and information on some programs that will be of interest, including on rural broadband.  These documents provide top level provide top-level analysis – if you have further questions, please reach out directly to Glynda Becker-Fenter, Director of Federal Relations.

WSU’s work on Farm Bill has been an 18-month process done in collaboration with the Washington State Department of Agriculture and with a strong coalition of the agricultural producer, grower, and processor stakeholders in our state. This success is our collective success and a credit to our work together. It also represents strong internal partnership. To that end, Colleen Kerr Vice President of the Office of External Affairs and Government Relations wants to thank CAHNRS Dean Andre Wright, CVM Dean Bryan Slinker, and Vice President for Research Chris Keane for their collaborative partnership and Glynda Becker-Fenter for her leadership on this months long process.

We very much look forward to working with you as USDA implements the Farm Bill.

Happy Holidays and Go Cougs!

Government Relations Team

Farm Bill Summary

Politico.FarmBill analysis


What the Governor’s budget proposal would mean for WSU

The two-year operating budget proposal released today by Gov. Jay Inslee partially funds WSU’s $14.4 million request to fund operations of the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine and would provide for small compensation increases for faculty and non-classified staff over the course of the biennium.

Notably, it also included foundational funding and other enhancements allowing the university to address key priorities.

The governor also released a capital budget proposal that funds construction of the Global Animal Health II project in Pullman and a new academic building in the Tri-Cities, while also advancing design and pre-design projects at WSU Vancouver and WSU Spokane, among other priorities.

The governor’s proposals are the first among a set of three that will set the table for final budget negotiations in April. The Legislature convenes in January to begin drafting its versions. Both the House and Senate will produce operating and capital budget proposals before negotiating a compromise to send to the governor.

For WSU, the operating budget proposal included the following:

  • $10.8 million for the medical school to complete funding for cohorts of 60 third and fourth year medical student slots. The university is also requesting an additional $3.6 million to fund the first and second year of a 20-seat expansion.
  • $15.4 million for compensation for faculty and non-represented staff. WSU is requesting $38.4 million to fund two increases of 4 percent each.
  • $2.8 million for a soil health research initiative.

The operating budget proposal also includes funding for the State Need Grant, changing the name to the College Promise Scholarship, in an attempt to have it fully funded to serve more than 93,000 students by 2022. Also included were investments to support  expanded career connected learning opportunities for students.

The governor’s capital budget proposal included the following.

  • Full funding of WSU’s $36.4 million request to complete construction funding for Global Animal Health II in Pullman, the new home of the Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Lab.
  • Full funding of WSU’s $27 million request to build a new Academic Building at WSU Tri-Cities
  • Full funding of WSU’s $4 million request for design of a new Life Sciences Building at WSU Vancouver
  • Full funding of WSU’s $500,000 request for predesign of a new Health Sciences Building at WSU Spokane.

Getting to know WSU’s new medical students

Legislators in Vancouver and Everett this week got acquainted with some of WSU’s 60 new first year medical students during lunch events on WSU campuses, finding an alignment with the mission of the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine.

“I chose WSU because of the mission statement to serve underserved populations,” one student said.

“WAZZU has a different mission statement,” another said. “Everyone talked about public service, but WSU has a program around it.”

WSU’s 60 first year medical students were in their designated regions this week, training in hubs at WSU campuses in Richland, Spokane, Everett and Vancouver. It was the second of three weeks of clinical training they’ll get during the academic year. Students will return to their designated regions for the entirety of their third and fourth years of training.

The lunch events are designed to introduce legislators to the students they’ve supported while providing students with the opportunity to engage with policy makers. In both locations, legislators found students who were attracted to WSU’s mission to serve the underserved.

One student at the Everett event talked of having spent time serving underserved populations overseas, then she realized that “there are so many people in my own community that needed help. They need help right here. I’m so happy I’m here.”

Several already had life experience working in various fields, including military, health and education. “The role of a doctor is to provide medical care, but it is also to be a community player,” one student said. “WSU fits that vision of what a doctor can be — a leader and a community player.”

In Vancouver, several students spoke about their decision to commit to WSU as a “no brainer.”

When asked about the application process one student shared about WSU’s family feel: “They really did want to get to know me.” Others spoke to efforts to ensure students care for themselves first. “Every week they would ask ‘how are you feeling?’” one student said.

“The school tends to lean towards working together,” one student said to describe the program’s model. “It’s not about who is most important, it’s about everyone coming together to treat the patient. It’s about bringing the best care to our patients, and the school really practices that.”

Students appeared energized by the opportunity to get into actual clinical settings.

“I’m looking forward to having a really good grasp working with live patients,” one said. “We have a very patient-focused program.”

State revenue forecast up again

A new forecast of state tax collections released Tuesday has increased projections for the current 2017-2019 budget cycle by $163.4 million and for the 2019-21 budget cycle by $196 million.  This pushes total revenue projections to $45.8 billion for 2017-2019 and $50 billion for 2019-21.

This forecast will be used by Gov. Jay Inslee to draft the budget proposal he’ll unveil next month. The Legislature convenes Jan. 14 to begin writing its budget proposals and will have the benefit of one more forecast due out March 20 before releasing them.

Tuesday’s report found that Washington’s unemployment rate declined to an all-time low of 4.3% in October from 4.4% in September. New risks to the forecast included the uncertainty of trade partnerships in the purposed European Union and United Kingdom split.

Legislators meet with medical students at WSU Tri-Cities

Members from the Washington State Legislature travelled out to the WSU Tri-Cities campus today to attend a lunch forum with the first 15 medical students assigned to the university’s medical school hub in the Tri-Cities. Students thanked legislators for their support of the medical school and discussed their individual experiences so far.

“WSU is a family,” said one student, “Once you’re a part of it, there’s nothing you can compare it to.”

The class is beginning their third intercession week of the academic year today, in which
they will be spending the entire week training and learning in their assigned region where they will be spending their third and fourth years of medical school.

“I think one of the things that was surprising was how much community support there is,” said one student.

“Look where I’m living,” another remarked, referring to the college’s Homestay Program. “I’m at somebody’s house who is a practicing physician. I’m having dinner with their kids.”

Several students also said they were struck by how well faculty and staff at the college listen.

“I just felt so heard when I was at my interview,” said one student. Another noted, “it’s so cool be a part of the first class. You get a say. They really listen to our feedback.”

For those students who were undergraduates at WSU before entering the medical school, they say they still feel that “same WSU magic.” As one student put it, “I can’t imagine being anywhere else.”

WSU medical residency bill signed into law

Governor Jay Inslee signed HB 2443 into law this afternoon, officially recognizing the Washington State University Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine as an accredited medical school and adding the university as a third co-chair of the Family Medicine Residency Network’s advisory board alongside the University of Washington and the Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences.

Established in 1975, the Family Medicine Residency Network supports and encourages the development of family medicine residencies across the state of Washington. As a member of the advisory board, WSU would assist in making recommendations on the selection of areas where affiliated residency programs will exist.

The bill passed through the House and Senate with full support on both sides of the aisle as it made its way through the Legislature this session. HB 2443 passed unanimously off the Senate floor with a vote of 49-0 and off the House floor with a count of 98-0.

Video of today’s bill signing can be viewed below.

Legislature adjourns, WSU agenda approved

The Legislature adjourned its 2018 session Thursday night, bringing to close a 60-day supplemental session that saw Washington State University’s legislative agenda approved in full.

The House and Senate on Thursday approved a budget agreement that fully funds WSU’s $1.272 million request to correct an oversight and fund last year’s legislation to expand and transfer the state’s solar energy incentive program to the WSU Energy Program. It also fully funds WSU’s $500,000 request to support the JCDREAM advanced materials research collaborative.

Also on the governor’s desk is House Bill 2443, a WSU-backed bill to add the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine to the Family Medicine Residency Network.

And earlier this session the Legislature approved a capital budget that included construction funding for two agriculture buildings in Pullman, design of a new academic building in the Tri-Cities and predesign of a new Life Sciences Building in Vancouver.

In addition, advances were made on other WSU supported priorities to provide State Need Grants to an additional 4,600 students statewide, reestablish the WSU-led Sustainable Aviation Biofuels Workgroup and establish a loan program for medical students who commit to serve in rural areas.

There were other wins to promote Open Educational Resources and access to the College Bound Scholarship for undocumented students as well.

All but the capital budget still need to be signed by the governor.

Budget agreement funds JCDREAM, Need Grant

Legislative budget writers on Wednesday unveiled a supplemental operating budget agreement that fully funded WSU’s $500,000 annual request to support the JCDREAM advanced materials research collaborative and provided funding to serve an additional 4,600 students with State Need Grants.

The budget agreement also breathed new life into plans to reconvene the Sustainable Aviation Biofuels Workgroup. A bill to do just that died last week, but language in the budget agreement reinstated the group and provided $20,000 annually to support it.

The budget agreement reconciles differences between proposals put forth by the governor in December and the House and Senate in February. Floor votes are expected tomorrow, the last scheduled day of this year’s 60-day legislative session.

The budget funded WSU’s two primary supplemental priorities. All three previous proposals already had funded WSU’s $1.272 million request to correct an oversight and fund last year’s legislation to expand and transfer the state’s solar energy incentive program to the WSU Energy Program.

But the funding for the Joint Center for Deployment and Research in Earth Abundant Materials was in question as it had been funded in two of the three proposals. WSU leads the legislatively approved advanced materials research collaborative with the University of Washington and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, with participation from other state universities and community colleges. The university’s request would fund the hiring of a full-time director and support staff and provide for a small competitive research grants program.

The House and Senate also compromised on their positions to better fund the State Need Grant, providing $18.5 million to reduce the ranks of students who are eligible to receive a State Need Grant but don’t receive one.