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Office of the President

July 27, 2017

Washington state budget makes important investments in the UW

Ana Mari Cauce

Late last month, Governor Jay Inslee signed into law the biennial operating budget for the state of Washington, a budget that addressed many of the University of Washington’s legislative priorities. In what was a complicated, landmark session defined by McCleary-mandated obligations, the legislature had to make tough choices. You can read about the budget in detail in this brief published by the University’s Office of Planning and Budgeting and on the UW’s State Relations blog.

Among the most important investments is $13.1 million for wage increases to partially fund three 2 percent increases over the next two years for faculty and professional staff. In addition, the budget fully funds the UW’s collective bargaining agreements. Our capacity to recruit and retain the dedicated faculty and staff who make this university great is fundamental to our mission, to our excellence as a University, and ultimately to our ability to positively impact the lives of students and people throughout the world. While we wish the legislature had supported our recommendation for a larger pay increase, it will not slow our continued advocacy for competitive compensation in our work with state legislators.  The Office of the Provost has provided guidance to deans, directors and other leaders on the implementation of those increases for the first year of the biennium.

The budget also expands access to the State Need Grant for an additional 875 students with a $12 million allocation, along with $38 million to adjust for undergraduate tuition increases for existing recipients. While this investment falls short of fully funding the State Need Grant backlog, I’m happy to see the funding moving in the right direction.

The budget also commits $5 million in new funding to pay for the third and fourth year cohorts in the UW School of Medicine partnership with Gonzaga University.  These 60 students currently studying in Spokane are crucial to our commitment to health care in rural and underserved areas. It also allows for a 2.2 percent increase in tuition next year and a 2 percent increase the following year as called for in tuition policy legislation enacted in 2015. Finally, the budget allocates $4.5 million for the Institute for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine to support faculty, core support, training programs, pilot grants, and Translational Bridge Awards.

In an unprecedented turn, the State Legislature did not pass a capital budget before adjourning, an impasse that is stalling or delaying hundreds of construction projects in Washington, including projects at the UW. We remain hopeful that legislators will reconvene to pass a capital budget soon and in the meantime, are working to understand and mitigate the impact on our campuses, including on the construction of the New Burke museum.

As I have written before, budgets are values made real. We appreciate the state’s investment in students and economic and societal progress through their investment in the University of Washington and we remain committed to the vital work of serving the people of this state through education, discovery and innovation. We look forward to further collaborations with our elected leaders to deliver on that mission.

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