The 2018 Legislative Session begins in Olympia today, marking the first day of the sixty-day session that is scheduled to conclude March 8. Over the next two months, legislators are likely to consider policy proposals and supplemental changes to the state’s 2017-19 operating budget, as well as adopt the state’s 2017-19 capital budget, which was not accomplished during the 2017 Legislative Session.
Listed below are Western’s priorities for the 2018 session, which are designed to build upon the university’s strengths and further serve the needs of the state.
Pass the compromise 2017-19 Capital Budget – Western strongly urges the Legislature to adopt the previously agreed-upon 2017-19 capital budget as early in the 2018 Legislative Session as possible. The budget proposals include critical funding to address WWU’s growing capacity constraints and preservation and maintenance needs, including design funding for a new interdisciplinary STEM building that will address major space limitations in a variety of STEM programs and funding to improve outdated safety and accessibility infrastructure needs across Western’s campus.
Support All Washington Students – Western strongly supports programs that ensure all Washington students have access to quality postsecondary opportunities. This includes support for proposals to fully fund the State Need Grant, as well as state and federal efforts to protect and support our DACA and undocumented students.
Reduce Bottlenecks in STEM Degree Programs – Western is increasingly becoming a leader in the state in producing graduates in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. The number of WWU students majoring in STEM subjects has more than doubled since 2005 and the university requests $1.2 million annually and $300 thousand in one-time costs to help meet growing student demand. This funding would increase capacity in entry-level STEM courses and accommodate an additional 100 STEM students per year.
Marine, Coastal and Watershed Sciences Degree – Western requests $1 million annually and $300 thousand in one-time costs to create a new interdisciplinary STEM degree program designed to meet employer demand and address challenges associated with climate change, resource management, and the growing fields of coastal science and policy. The new degree program would leverage Western’s existing areas of expertise in oceanographic, aquatic, and environmental sciences, and expand student access to Western’s existing Shannon Point Marine Center in Anacortes.
You can find additional information about Western’s 2018 legislative priorities here.
WWU’s Office of Government Relations will provide updates to this blog throughout the legislative session to help keep Western’s community informed about issues impacting the university and higher education throughout the state. You can sign up for email updates from the Western Legislative Review on the right side of the blog’s homepage and you can also follow @WWUGOV Twitter for additional updates.