Governor Inslee released his proposed operating and capital state budgets on Wednesday, a first step in the process of developing the 2017-19 biennial state budget. Once the 2017 legislative session kicks off next month, the state Senate and House of Representatives will each begin developing their own state budget proposals and work together to create a final biennial budget by the end of the legislative session. The Legislature will face a challenging process in the months ahead as it crafts a balanced budget and grapples with meeting McCleary obligations related to K-12 education funding.
The Governor’s proposal calls for a two-year freeze in resident undergraduate tuition increases at public baccalaureate institutions and community and technical colleges, as well as a $116 million investment to expand the State Need Grant to an additional 14,000 eligible students throughout the state. The proposed budget also calls for targeted increases for medical education and student success, and a $3 million increase for the Opportunity Scholarship, which supports low income students pursuing high-demand and STEM majors.
For Western, the Governor’s budget includes $3.6 million for student support services, as well as $4 million to backfill foregone tuition dollars during the two-year tuition freeze. The Governor’s budget also proposes three separate, 2 percent salary increases for all Western employees for the 2017-19 biennium.
In regards to the capital budget proposal, the Governor’s budget includes $11.6 million for the preservation of minor works on campus and $6.6 million for upgrades to Western’s classrooms and labs. The capital proposal also includes $3.18 million in funding for much-needed safety and ADA upgrades to elevators throughout campus and $2.7 million for disability resource services at Haggard Hall. Unfortunately funding for Western’s top capital priority, the Sciences Building Addition and Renovation project, was not included in the Governor’s budget proposal despite being highly ranked in the state’s prioritized list of capital projects for the public baccalaureate sector.
The 2017 legislative session will commence on January 9 and is scheduled to conclude April 23. Western’s Office of Government Relations will provide updates in the WLR throughout the session to help keep you informed. You can subscribe to the blog to receive the latest WLR updates using the link on the right side of this page.