Last night the Washington State Legislature completed the 2019 legislative session with the passage of the state’s biennial budgets, in addition to passing several historic legislative measures.
The final 2019-21 Operating Budget, in coordination with appropriations from HB 2158 includes funding to implement the state’s salary increase policy, including a 3 percent annual compensation increase in both years of the 2019-21 biennium. This funding is based on the assumption that all revenues from a 2.4% annual increase in undergraduate resident and non-resident tuition would be applied to employee salaries. HB 2158 also includes $3.426M solely for increased access to STEM degrees, which may include expanding prehealthcare capacity, creating an energy science and technology B.S. degree, and expanding electrical engineering degrees.
The final 2019-21 Capital Budget includes many important infrastructure projects at WWU, including:
- $60 million in construction funding for an Interdisciplinary Science Building which will provide greatly-needed lab and classroom space for a variety of STEM degree programs on campus;
- $2 million in design funding for a new Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Building to address capacity constraints in these degree programs;
- $3 million in funding to upgrade some of the most outdated classroom and labs on campus;
- Funding for WWU’s minor works perseveration and programmatic projects; and
- Authority for WWU to self-finance up to $9.95 million for the Consolidated Academic Support Services Facility.
The legislature also passed Initiative 1000, an initiative to the legislature that allows the use of affirmative action to remedy discrimination in public employment, education and contracting provided that such policies do not utilize quotas or constitute preferential treatment. The measure also prohibits state discrimination or preferential treatment based on age, sexual orientation, the presence of any sensory, mental, or physical disability, or honorably discharged veteran or military status.
Finally, the legislature passed HB 2158, legislation that creates a permanent and dedicated fund for higher education through a targeted rate increase for certain businesses in the state that rely on employees with postsecondary credentials. The legislation replaces the State Need Grant with the Washington College Grant and makes the program a guarantee beginning in the 2020-21 academic year.