Securing additional state funding to boost employee compensation is WSU’s top priority during the Washington State legislative session that begins next week.
Alongside requests related to employee compensation, the university is also seeking funding for new degree programs as well as to address new construction and ongoing maintenance needs.
The university has requested $34.5 million to provide a 4% cost of living adjustment for faculty, professional staff and graduate students in fiscal year 2024, which begins in June 2023, and a further 3% increase the following year.
WSU is also seeking changes in the way the state funds university salaries, asking legislators to fully allocate enough for annual compensation increases, rather than partially funding the requests contingent on tuition increases to make up the difference.
“University employees have done incredible work to get us through the COVID-19 pandemic to find themselves being hit by inflation on one side and workforce shortages on the other,” WSU President Kirk Schulz said. “There just isn’t a higher priority.”
An additional $4.4 million is also being requested to pay for salary and equipment enhancements in the College of Nursing as part of its reaccreditation effort.
WSU’s operating budget request also includes funding to establish new degree programs across the university system. Approximately $1.6 million is being sought to establish new bachelors and masters degrees in social work at WSU Tri-Cities. A further $2.5 million would go toward developing a bachelor’s degree in public health, with specialties in infection disease offered in Pullman and behavioral health at Spokane and Vancouver.
For its 2023-2025 capital budget request, WSU is asking legislators for $155 million for building and maintenance projects. The most significant of these projects is the new Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture facility, which is being funded in large part by a $20 million gift from Edmund and Beatriz Schweitzer, and Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories (SEL).
In October, The Boeing Company announced a $5 million gift to establish a new student success center within the college.
Members of the Washington Legislature will convene for their first regular session of the year on Jan. 9.