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WSU Government Relations Newsbeat

Revenue forecast ticks upward

A new forecast of future tax collections has added $79 million in anticipated state revenues for the current two-year budget cycle and another $80 million for the one that begins July 1. That’s a small bump for a state budget that is expected to near $42 billion.

You can read the forecast here and find the press release from the Office of Financial Management here.

That provides a critical piece of information as legislative negotiators work to craft a compromise operating budget to send to the governor. Budgets proposed by the governor, House and Senate all provide $10 million to fund 60 first and second year medical students for the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine, the university’s top legislative priority. The budgets differ on other operating budget priorities relating to STEM degree production, compensation and the State Need Grant.

The Legislature also still needs to write a capital budget. While funding for the design of a new academic building at WSU Tri-Cities and for the predesign of a Life Sciences Building at WSU Vancouver is included in all three budget proposals, they differ on WSU’s top capital budget priorities for funding the construction of the Plant Sciences Building and the start of the Global Animal Health phase II project, both in Pullman.

Governor Inslee signs b̶r̶a̶n̶c̶h̶ campus bill

The term “branch” has been officially removed as a descriptor for WSU campuses historically known as branch campuses.

Gov. Jay Inslee signed HB 1107 into law during a bill signing ceremony this afternoon. The bill removes the term “branch” from applicable state laws. It does not change governance or make any other changes.

WSU has supported this bill throughout this year’s legislative session, testifying in support before the Senate on March 16th and before the House back in January.

The bill passed through the House 91-6 and later passed through the Senate 48-0.

What the House capital budget means for WSU

Leaders in the House of Representatives released their capital budget proposal Wednesday, funding one of two construction requests forwarded by WSU for the Pullman campus.

The plan fully funds WSU’s $38.1 million request to build the first stage of the Global Animal Health Phase II project — the new home of the Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory. But it does not fund WSU’s $58.9 million request to construct the Plant Sciences Building.

Both projects remain in play going into negotiations on a final budget. The Senate plan provides $52 million for Plant Sciences and $23 million to get started on Global Animal Health Phase II.

The House and Senate plans both fund two other priority projects — the design of the WSU Tri-Cities Academic Building and the predesign of the WSU Vancouver Life Sciences Building. The House plan provides $28 million for minor capital preservation and $1 million of a $4.9 million request to upgrade STEM teaching labs in Pullman.

The House budget also provides $2 million to purchase equipment for the Joint Center for Deployment and Research in Earth Abundant Materials, a research collaboration between WSU, the University of Washington and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory to support the development of technologies that typically rely on precious metals.

Senate plan funds priority WSU ag buildings

The Senate Ways and Means Committee voted out a proposed capital budget Wednesday that includes funding for two WSU building projects critical to the future of Washington agriculture.

The plan funds $52 million of WSU’s $58.9 million request for the Plant Sciences Building and $23 million to start construction of the Global Animal Health Phase II project, both in Pullman. This despite unexpected constraints on the capital budget due to late breaking requirements for K-12 construction.

The Senate capital budget proposal also provides $3 million for design of the WSU Tri-Cities Academic Building and $500,000 for predesign of the Vancouver Life Sciences Building. It also provides $22.3 million for minor capital preservation.

You can view WSU’s testimony on the Senate capital budget from earlier this week below.

WSU weighs in on House operating budget

Chris Mulick, WSU director of state relations, testified support on behalf of the university Monday evening for the House’s proposed operating budget, released earlier in the day on Monday.

“We’re here first and foremost to express our appreciation for the funding in this budget to support the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine. In very little time, the school has gained accreditation, kicked off private fundraising efforts, recruited an applicant pool of over 700 [prospective medical students] and signed up 20 clinical partners across the state with more on the way,” Mulick said. Watch his full testimony below.



Medical school funded in all three budget proposals

Leaders in the House of Representatives Monday released a budget proposal that would provide $10 million to support 60 first year and 60 second year medical students for the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine.

That’s consistent with funding proposals released earlier by the governor and the Senate. In all three proposals, annual funding beginning in fiscal year 2019 is just $200,000 short of WSU’s request, its top legislative priority.

The House plan would also do the following.

  • Backfill a tuition freeze for the next two academic years
  • Increase funding by $73 million for the State Need Grant
  • Fund three compensation increases of 2 percent each during the 2017-19 biennium
  • Fund legislation that provides $500 stipends to students whose parent our spouse passed away, became totally disabled, or is considered a prisoner of war or missing in action due to military service
  • Provide $75,000 to boost honeybee research
  • Fund legislation establishing a child and adolescent psychiatry residency program in Eastern Washington

The House plan is expected to be voted out of the House Appropriations Committee Tuesday in advance of a floor vote later this week.

For questions, please email Chris Mulick at

Amendment boosts med school funding in Senate budget

The Senate Ways and Means Committee voted late Wednesday to increase funding in its budget proposal for the Elson S. Floyd College of medicine from $5 million to $10 million for the 17-19 biennium.

That matches the level funded in the governor’s budget. WSU has requested $10.8 million. Beginning with the 2019 fiscal year, the variance is limited to $200,000 per year.

The committee entertained dozens of amendments, rejecting most, and voted Senate Bill 5048 out. The budget now faces a floor vote.

The House operating budget proposal is expected to be released Monday and heard that afternoon in the House Appropriations Committee.

For questions, please email Chris Mulick at

WSU testifies on Senate operating budget

Washington State University was back on the hill this week to testify at the Ways & Means hearing of the Senate’s proposed operating budget, SB 5048, which was released early Tuesday afternoon. WSU issued their support for funding in the bill that would bolster STEM degree production, but asked that the Senate take into consideration their top legislative priority: the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine.

The legislature partially funded $5 million of the $10.8 million funding request to support the charter class of sixty Washington students beginning their medical school training on August 17th.

You can view WSU’s testimony in the hearing below.

What the Senate budget means for WSU

Leaders in the state Senate unveiled an operating budget proposal Tuesday that would increase funding for STEM enrollments, but only partially fund WSU’s request to support the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine.

At a high level, the proposal would do the following.

  • Provide $5 million to support the medical school. WSU has requested $10.8 million for the 2017-19 biennium to support 60 first year and 60 second year students.
  • Provide $7.2 million for new enrollments, with 70 percent of them required to be in STEM disciplines. WSU had requested $5 million to support new engineering enrollments in Vancouver and Everett.
  • Provide compensation increases for state employees at $500 per year for each year of the biennium.
  • Fund legislation establishing a research program to study Elk Hoof Disease and legislation enhancing mental health services for students who are veterans.
  • Suspend marijuana research funding directed by Initiative 502.
  • Enact a $3.2 million cut assuming a 1 percent reduction in tuition waivers.

Other finer details are still being studied. The budget is being heard at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Senate Ways and Means Committee. The House is expected to release its operating budget proposal soon. Negotiators will ultimately reach a compromise to send to the governor.

For questions, please email Chris Mulick at

WSU backs open educational resources legislation

WSU has made significant strides in the past year to expand awareness and implementation of open educational resources in the classroom, and it continued to do so by issuing its support of HB 1561 – a bill designed to increase the use of these resources at four-year higher education institutions. The bill was heard in the Senate on Thursday.

The university has already invested $22,000 towards adoption of open educational resources in the classroom in Pullman and has been most progressive at its Vancouver campus, with half of 100 level math courses already incorporating OER.  If funded, the bill would set aside funds that would be used for grants that could fund efforts to further integrate low cost or no cost open educational resources into specific classes.

The university testified in support of the bill back in January when it was heard before the House Higher Education committee. The bill later passed through the house with a vote of 64-34.

You can view Thursday’s testimony below.

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