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February 19, 2009

Dental administrators and students meet with state legislators

Top administrators and students from the UW School of Dentistry met with key legislators in Olympia on Feb. 13 to urge continued support for the school amid the state’s worsening budget crisis.

Dean Martha Somerman and Associate Deans Daniel Chan and Wendy Mouradian met with legislators including Sen. Rodney Tom, vice chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, and Sen. Chris Marr of the Senate Health & Long-Term Care Committee. The deans also called on Rep. Eileen Cody, chair of the House Health Care & Wellness Committee, who spoke briefly at a breakfast preceding the legislator visits.

The Dental Action Day activities were organized by the Washington State Dental Association, which also enlisted 15 UW Dentistry students to visit legislators. WSDA officials and private dentists also joined the effort.

The meetings came amid word that the state’s budget deficit for the 2009-11 biennium, which had been forecast at about $6 billion earlier, was now expected to reach $8.5 billion or more.

Gov. Chris Gregoire’s budget calls for a 13 percent reduction in state funding for the UW and other four-year colleges and universities, but was written when the smaller deficit had been forecast.

While legislators received the Dentistry deans cordially, they warned that the state faced extremely difficult choices in the coming months.