Office of External Affairs

January 23, 2019

From the VP – State budget discussions in Olympia

Randy Hodgins

The 2019 state legislative session began on Monday, January 14 and in the spirit of “wasting no time” to make our case for increased state funding, I had the pleasure of joining President Cauce in Olympia all day yesterday to meet with state legislators about our biennial operating and capital budget requests (read that here). We also stopped by TVW, where Ana Mari appeared with WSU President Kirk Schulz on TVW program “The Impact” to discuss our joint “Yes, It’s Possible” campaign.

During the course of our day, we heard a lot about the state’s structural budget challenges.  What this means is that despite robust revenue growth, prior budgets were balanced using too many one-time fixes and a persistent gap between revenue and spending remains unresolved. Tack on spending needs for behavioral health, some additional K-12 costs, health care and other social services and of course the needs of the UW and all of public higher education and the $4 billion deficit that legislators talk about begins to make some sense.

Governor Jay Inslee’s budget proposal addresses the state’s budget gap through proposals to raise significant revenue with a new tax on capital gains and an increase in the state’s business and occupation tax on certain businesses.  His proposed $26 million in “foundational support” for the UW’s core operating budget is critical to correcting several years of over reliance on tuition revenue to fund compensation and other core educational functions. The good news from our many legislative meetings yesterday was that virtually all members were aware of our request for foundational budget support and felt like we were doing a good job of making a strong case for the investment. The less good news was that the legislature doesn’t know yet how they are going to balance this budget and address all the other competing budget priorities.  That’s totally to be expected since we are less than 10 days into the 105 day session.

All in all a good day of advocacy for UW and public higher education priorities.  President Cauce plans to make three additional trips to Olympia during the session and our Regents, students, faculty and alumni have several additional lobbying days planned in the next couple of months. More to come as the session continues.

Note: The Impact airs each Wednesday at 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. on TVW and repeats Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 7 p.m. and airs on KSPS Public Television in Spokane and KSTW TV in Seattle. More information is online from TVW