PULLMAN, Wash. – In a call to state lawmakers to increase the funding to Washington State University to better represent the cost of educating today’s students, the Board of Regents approved the school’s operating budget request for the 2003-05 biennium. The meeting was held today (Sept. 6) at WSU’s Samuel H. Smith Center for Undergraduate Education.

Over the last 10 years, state funding for WSU students has declined 11.9 percent. Washington appropriates $1,877 less per student than does WSU’s competitors.

WSU’s $54.3 million budget request package is comprised of four parts: $36 million in core funding, $2.6 million to preserve veterinary medicine, $15.1 million for continued student access and $.6 million to support unfunded state mandates.

WSU President V. Lane Rawlins told regents that Washington students deserve funding of educational opportunities at levels competitive with other states. “Additional core funding is needed to ensure quality programs are available for the next generation of students,” the president said.

The university’s request is for the state to provide additional support per student incrementally each year. Catching up with the average funding levels of competing states will take several biennia. The increases will help provide competitive salaries, economic development through biotechnology and other quality improvements. For 2003-04, WSU will request $12 million, and for 2004-05, $24 million, a $36 million total or 6 percent per year (3 percent catch-up and 3 percent keep-up), the president said.

The second portion of the request follows a decision by Oregon State University to terminate an agreement whereby the state of Oregon paid for part of the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine program on the Pullman campus. Students in the OSU DVM program complete the second and most of the third year of their education while enrolled at WSU, and OSU has shared the cost. The change results in a $2.4 million annual budget reduction in the WSU instructional DVM program budget. Rawlins said the university will seek replacement funding to maintain the program by asking for $.8 million for 2003-04 and $1.8 million for 2004-05.

The university also will seek funding to continue to accept freshman and transfer students at the current levels. The policy will produce controlled growth in enrollment as larger freshman classes replace smaller graduating classes. Without the new funds, WSU must reduce the number it accepts, Rawlins told regents. WSU will seek $6.5 million for 2003-04 and $8.6 million for 2004-05.

“The state of Washington faces severe budget problems and we understand that this funding request will be difficult,” Rawlins said. “But the future economic and social welfare of the state depends heavily on what the state invests in its universities. Washington cannot afford to fall farther behind other states.”

WSU also will ask for an additional $90,000 for its risk management self insurance program and $572,000 that will be needed for civil service reform and collective bargaining, both issues among state unfunded mandates to the university.

Rawlins said the university’s proposed budget request is $446,036,000: the 2003-05 maintenance level budget of $391,709,000 and the four items in the request package.

Karl Boehmke, executive budget director, reviewed the 2003-05 capital budget request with regents. Among the projects totaling more than $118.4 million that university officials will request from the state for the Pullman campus include $35.2 million for the Johnson Hall Addition-Plant Biosciences facilities, an $11.16 million addition to Cleveland Hall, $6.5 million for a biotechnology/life science facility, $250,000 in pre-design funds for a biomedical sciences facility, $11.5 million for campus infrastructure and more than $10.7 for a wastewater reclamation project.

Also on the list of requested projects are minor capital improvements ($7.5 million), minor capital preservation ($8 million), minor capital safety/security/environment ($3 million), equipment omnibus appropriation ($8 million), WSUnet infrastructure ($4 million), hazardous waste facilities-statewide ($3 million), Holland Library Renovation ($3.3 million), facilities services center 1-library ($3 million), Public Safety building ($3 million) and hospital renovation ($300,000).

For the newer campuses, capital requests of more than $40 million are proposed. These include minor capital projects ($1 million), Spokane Riverpoint: Academic Center Building ($32.5 million), campus utilities and infrastructure at WSU Vancouver ($4.3 million), Bioproducts and Science Building at WSU Tri-Cities ($150,000 for pre-design), College of Nursing at Spokane Riverpoint ($600,000 for pre-design) and a multi-purpose building at WSU Prosser Irrigated Agriculture Research and Extension Center ($1.5 million).

The budget requests are due today to the state’s Office of Financial Management.