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Proposed state supplemental budget released, up for vote

House and Senate conferees released their compromise budget on Tuesday, March 7. The proposal will be up for a vote this morning and is expected to pass.  Highlights for WSU are as follows:

CAPITAL BUDGET

WSU can begin construction of the life sciences research laboratory and instructional facility in Pullman with an appropriation $10 million in funding from state Evans/Gardner bonds. The balance of the funding will be appropriated in 2007-2009. 

There is no increase in funding for preservation projects.  The House bill would have appropriated $5 million from the WSU building account for this purpose.

OPERATING BUDGET

Energy cost increases:  $716,000 is provided to cover part of the increased utility costs of in the current year (FY2006). FY2007 energy costs may be considered in the 2007 supplemental budget.

WSU Tri-Cities: The conference budget provides $250,000 for start-up expenses at WSU Tri-Cities as the campus develops four-year programs.  This appropriation follows the passage of legislation to allow WSUTC to begin admitting freshman into a wide range of programs.

High demand enrollments: As the House had proposed, the compromise budget appropriates $1,174,000 directly to WSU for 80 FTE enrollments to facilitate expanding undergraduate and graduate programs in nursing, engineering, construction management and other areas.

AgWeatherNet system: $800,000 is appropriated for this system.  It will provide data for weather-dependent agricultural, natural resource, fire services, and environmental activities throughout the state. 

BIOAg program:  $400,000 is appropriated for this program to foster biological approaches to farming that work in concert with natural systems and contribute to the emerging bioeconomy in Washington. 

Institute for Systems Medicine: The conference budget provides $1,000,000 for WSU to pass through to the ISM for the development of life sciences research located in Spokane.

Biofuels Energy Extension Program: $98,000 is provided to establish a Biofuels Consumer Education and Outreach Program at the WSU Extension Energy Program.

Missing maintenance and operations: When the 2005-07 budget was passed, maintenance and operations funding was inadvertently left out for three capital projects.  The conference budget provides $501,000 to fully fund maintenance and operations for Vancouver Student Services, Prosser Precision Agricultural Center and the Spokane South Campus Annex. 

Compensation corrections: All three budgets correct the over funding of benefit and compensation agreements in the original appropriation. 

SmartBuy: The 2005 legislature assumed all state agencies would save money through a new pooled purchasing arrangement called SmartBuy. However, since WSU already qualifies for educational and other discounts, it is unlikely additional real savings will be realized. The conference budget directs OFM to pass on $22.2 million in cuts to agencies and four-year institutions.  (Community colleges are exempt.) OFM has previously estimated WSU’s share as $256,000.

WSU/UW Policy Consensus Center: There is no direct funding for the joint Policy Consensus Center in either the WSU or UW budgets. $200,000 is appropriated to the Office of Financial Management to contract with the PCC for services.

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