From new construction to renovations and upgrades for existing facilities, WSU has a lot riding on this year’s legislative session.
Much of it relies on the Legislature finishing what didn’t get done last year: final agreement on the state’s $4.1 billion capital budget.
The tentative package includes $113.9 million for WSU. The new session opened Monday in Olympia.
“The capital budget is critical to our research enterprise and meeting our basic land-grant mission around the state,” said Colleen Kerr, who serves as vice president of government relations and external affairs. “Not having a capital budget for a year is a challenge, and we want to work with legislators and our stakeholders to see it approved.”
The state’s two-year operating budget is what tends to get the most attention, in part because it’s larger and is used primarily for ongoing or recurring expenses. The separate capital budget is what the state uses to pay for new construction and other fixed projects key to growth.
The list of projects already agreed to by lawmakers in July but still awaiting final approval in the 2018 session include:
- Construction of new Plant Sciences Building on Pullman campus, $52 million.
- Construction of Global Animal Health Phase II Building on Pullman campus, $23 million.
- Preservation projects across the University system, $22.3 million.
- Preventive facility maintenance and repairs across the University system, $10.1 million.
- Design development for new Academic Building on Tri-Cities campus, $3 million.
- Joint Center for Deployment and Research in Earth Abundant Materials, a collaborative venture with University of Washington and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, $2 million.
- Renovations to add more STEM teaching labs on Pullman campus, $1 million.
- Pre-design development of new Life Sciences Building on the Vancouver campus, $500,000.
In November, the WSU Board of Regents authorized moving forward with the design phase for the new Plant Sciences and Global Animal Health buildings.
Meanwhile, several policy-related issues are on the legislative agenda as well.
The WSU Energy Program, for example, is seeking $1.035 million to cover its costs for administering the state’s newest renewable energy incentives. The University was given responsibility for the program by lawmakers during the third special session last year but a funding decision had to wait because the state’s operating budget already had been negotiated and approved.
Elsewhere, WSU, the University of Washington, and Pacific Northwest National Laboratories are teaming up to seek funding for a collaborative effort called the Joint Center for Deployment and Research in Earth Abundant Materials. The center, which is designed to make Washington the national leader in the development and commercialization of next-generation clean energy and transportation technologies, needs a full-time director, administrative assistant and research technician.
The University also is seeking a co-chair role on a state panel that recommends where physician residency programs should be located throughout Washington. The advisory board to the Family Medicine Residency Network was created in 2015 under legislation that also called for including representation from any newly accredited medical school. WSU’s Spokane-based Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine received accreditation in October 2016.