Funds sought for biosci building, tech transfer, more

Washington State University’s 2006 supplemental budget request got a boost when Gov. Christine Gregoire endorsed the highest priority — authority to use the state’s Certificates of Participation (COP) process to fund construction of a $63 million biotechnology/life sciences building, the second in a planned biosciences complex. The COPs will be repaid with revenue earned on WSU’s permanent land-grant funds and deposited in its building account.

The request is being reviewed by the Legislature. WSU’s major request doesn’t require funding from the Legislature at all — just its blessing. Approval would allow construction to begin in May so that researchers could move in in 2008.

Other items requested by WSU include:

* $450,000 as WSU’s share of a joint request with the University of Washington to improve technology transfer — moving discoveries made through university research into the private sector for development and application. Included in this proposal is $100,000 for the Policy Consensus Center. The center provides a neutral forum for discussion and marshals resources and research to facilitate collaborative problem-solving by interests that cannot otherwise find agreement. The governor has recommended funding the $100,000 for the PCC.

• $7.93 million to offset the dramatically increasing prices of natural gas, electrical service and other energy sources. Gregoire approved funding of $913,000 for the current fiscal year, with the intent to re-examine the need for next year.

• $800,000 for the AgWeatherNet, which provides weather and other environmental information and predictions for the state’s agriculture industry. Equipment to expand AgWeatherNet previously was funded, but operations funding is lacking. The governor did not recommend funding for this.

• $800,000 for the BIOAg program to enhance the economic and environmental health of Washington agriculture via organic and other sustainable farming methods. The governor did not recommend funding for this.

• $501,000 for maintenance/utilities funding inadvertently left out of three capital projects in the 2005-2007 budget. Those projects are the Spokane South Campus Annex, Vancouver Student Services Building and Prosser Precision Agricultural Center. Gregoire approved this funding.

• $318,000 to accommodate students with disabilities. The governor did not recommend funding for this.

• Adjustment of the 2005-2007 budget, which gave WSU too much money for employee fringe benefit increases and not enough for salary increases. The adjustment would return $3.26 million to the state. The governor’s budget approves these transfers.

The Legislature got under way on Monday, Jan. 9.

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