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Inslee signs budget with funds for employee raises, new cybersecurity program

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Washington State University is among the institutions of higher education receiving significant support in the 2022 supplemental operating budget signed last week by Gov. Jay Inslee.

Heading into the most recent legislative session, the university’s top priority was gaining state support to fund additional compensation for employees. Its work with the legislature resulted in $7.5 million to support compensation enhancements. This compensation enhancement will also feature a larger proportion of new state dollars as compared to tuition revenue thanks to an adjustment in that ratio.

“The support we’ve received from lawmakers and the governor’s office has been outstanding and will allow us to make strides in critical areas, ranging from educational advancement and research to employee hiring and retention, said WSU System President Kirk Schulz.

Additional details about raises for WSU employees will be provided by April 15, WSU President Kirk Schulz announced during his State of the University address in March.

WSU also received more than $2 million to create a Cybersecurity degree program through the Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture. This program will be available at the university’s Pullman, Tri-Cities and Everett campuses.

A joint request with the University of Washington to establish a psychiatric pharmacy residency program was also funded to the tune of $341,000. Two residents will be placed in clinical settings in Eastern Washington next year as a result, while UW will place two new residents at its forthcoming mental health teaching hospital.

An additional $2 million was provided in the supplemental capital budget for compact shelving in Holland Library on the Pullman campus to consolidate collections and reclaim potential study space for students.

Other operating budget investments in higher education were also made via several house and senate bills this session.

Among them was House Bill 1659, which provides $34.3 million towards bridge grants for all students receiving the maximum Washington College Grant and increases eligibility for the maximum grant to 60% of median family income. Another $3.2 million allotted via House Bill 1835 will fund a FAFSA advertising campaign and outreach specialist pilot program aimed at increasing postsecondary enrollment. A new low-interest student loan program is also being created using $150 million in one-time funding under House Bull 1736.

Anti-hazing legislation that WSU supported was also recently signed by Inslee. Known as Sam’s Law, it requires colleges to develop anti-hazing training for new students as well as employees, among other new mandates. The WSU College of Nursing will be providing training to nurses seeking to be certified as Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners after legislation supported and co-developed by WSU was approved earlier this year.

More information on WSU’s efforts on the state and federal level can be found on its government relations’ website.

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