State and federal budget plans include support for WSU

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Washington State University is seeing much-appreciated support for its programs and initiatives in budget packages advancing at the state and federal levels.

State spending plans have cleared their legislative branches and are awaiting Gov. Jay Inslee’s expected signature. In Washington, D.C., six of the 12 funding bills have passed Congress and been signed into law by President Joe Biden and Congress must act on the final six funding bills before March 22.

State budget

The 2024 supplemental operating budget – approved last week by the Washington State Legislature – includes $2.5 million of the $4.9 million requested for WSU’s historic collective bargaining agreement with academic student employees.

The funding, while only guaranteed for the current and forthcoming fiscal years, represents a critical investment in graduate students across the WSU system, WSU President Kirk Schulz said at the March 8 Board of Regents meeting. 

“I’m proud of that fact that we reached that contract, that we did what we needed to do, and that I think in the long run this is going to represent a really positive and significant step forward for WSU and our research enterprise,” Schulz said.

The state budget also includes $6.8 million to be used by WSU in carbon allowance auctions in keeping with the requirements of the Climate Commitment Act. In a separate capital budget proposal, WSU received a further $3 million to make infrastructure improvements in its bid to reach full compliance with the CCA.

A number of other WSU projects and efforts received state support in the latest budget agreements:

  • $10 million for the purchase of a new dairy digester on the Pullman campus
  • $500,000 in one-time funding to expand the WSU Native Coug Scholars financial aid program
  • $425,000 in one-time funds to design and develop a state digital literacy credential program
  • $353,000 in ongoing funding for the WSU Complex Social Interactions Lab on the Pullman campus
  • $232,000 in ongoing support to assist in the state’s opioid prevention efforts
  • $190,000 in ongoing support to hire a broadband coordinator within WSU Extension
  • $62,000 in ongoing funds to support benefits navigators for students

Also, during this most recent state legislative session, WSU-supported legislation that would enable athletics personnel to more freely advise student athletes on Name, Image, and Likeness was approved and signed by the governor.

Federal spending

WSU is also seeing significant support in the first six funding bills that were passed earlier this month as part of the fiscal year 2024 budget. This round of funding supports areas of interest to WSU including programs within Departments of Agriculture, Transportation, Energy, and Veterans Affairs, and the National Science Foundation.  

The funding package that was signed into law on March 9 contained $16 million in WSU-related earmarks supported by Senator Patty Murray and Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, including $7.5 million for upgrading WSU’s Hot Cell facility, $3 million toward security enhancements on the WSU Pullman campus, $2.5 to purchase equipment supporting research, and $3 million to support USDA’s Agricultural Research Service’s site in Prosser co-located with WSU’s Irrigated Agriculture Research and Extension Center.

 The bill includes funding to support other WSU initiatives, including:

  • $2.5 million to establish a consortium of academic institutions addressing biological and physical sciences with NASA
  • Funding for the FAA Center of Excellence for Alternative Jet Fuel and the Environment (ASCENT) – a cooperative research enterprise co-led by WSU and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology – is funded at last year’s record-setting level of funding
  • Continued federal support to tackle issues facing Washington’s agricultural industry, including herbicide resistances weeds, smoke exposed wine grapes, and little cherry disease.
  • Funding to create a competitive program supporting collaborative work between the Washington Stormwater Center at the Puyallup R&E Center and the Center for Urban Waters at the University of Washington in Tacoma,
  • Provides $2 million to create a new USDA ARS program supporting functional genomics work being done by the College of Veterinary Medicine
  • $50 million in competitive funding for university and college-based nuclear reactor safety training is included in the Department of Energy’s budget, which supports work done at WSU’s Nuclear Science Center

“We had some real successes here that I just want to make sure we take a little bit of time to celebrate, because they are really critical investments in Washington State University,” Schulz said during the March 7 Board of Regents’ Strategic and Operational Excellence committee meeting.

Congress is expected to pass the remaining funding bills supporting the Department of Education, Health and Human Services, Department of Defense, and Small Business Administration all supporting WSU’s work in the state of Washington by March 22.

More information on WSU’s legislative efforts is available on the External Affairs and Government Relations website.

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