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From the VP: Washington state legislative session underway

UW Deans of the schools of Dentistry, Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy and Public Health stand in from of the WA state capitol building. We are more than a month into this year’s legislative session and already we’re seeing the benefits of returning to an in-person format after two years of remote lawmaking. In just the first month, President Cauce, UW Medicine CEO Tim Dellit and several UW Deans, faculty, students and administrators have already visited Olympia to meet with lawmakers. While Zoom is here to stay and certainly increases access for those who live far away from Olympia, there is no replacement for quick conversations with a staffer while in line for coffee or catching a member in the hallway between meetings. Members are pleased to be back together again, and I know our State Relations staff are as well.

Beyond the move back to in-person, this session is also noteworthy because 29 new legislators joined the House and Senate this year and most sophomore legislators working an in-person session for the first time. This means we have a unique opportunity to meet and share the impact of higher education broadly and the UW specifically with many new members.

One woman and two men sit facing each other and talking in an office. The woman is wearing purple and the men are wearing grey. During this 105-day “long” session, legislators will decide the 2023-25 biennial operating, capital, and transportation budgets. The UW has put forward a robust agenda with asks ranging from staff compensation to dental health to building renovation to growing local, more diverse STEM workforce pipeline. I’ve highlighted some key requests below. For a full list of our budget requests, our 2023 legislative agenda is available here.

Competitive compensation for nonrepresented faculty and staff: $26.2M in FY24; $46.6M in FY25+
With rising inflation and the high cost of living in the Puget Sound region, funds are requested to increase salaries for nonrepresented employees by 4% in FY24 and 3% in FY25 with an improved fund split of at least two-thirds of state funding. Investing in compensation is paramount to our efforts to recruit and retain quality faculty and staff.

Ensuring UW Medicine can continue to care for our state’s most vulnerable residents: $300M
UW Medical Center and Harborview Medical Center serve a unique role as the state’s safety-net and health-care workforce training hospitals. Given the serious financial crisis facing these hospitals, we are requesting funding for safety-net and health-care workforce training activities; to alleviate significant labor costs and sustain clinical operations; and to ensure our hospitals’ financial viability while other payment programs await federal approval.

Growing a local, more diverse STEM workforce pipeline: $5.2M in FY24; $9.1M in FY25+
Student and employer demand for UW STEM degrees continues to exceed our existing capacity. With additional funding, the UW would add 760 enrollments and 300 degrees per year by FY27, as well as academic support services, to qualified Washington students in informatics, computing and engineering.

UW School of Dentistry RIDE program expansion: $2M in FY24; $2.34M in FY25+
The Regional Initiatives in Dental Education (RIDE) program of the UW School of Dentistry trains dentists to meet the needs of rural and underserved populations in the state. In partnership with Eastern Washington University, we request funds to double the annual cohort of RIDE students from eight to 16 per year and ensure that they spend two academic years based in Spokane.

Phase 2 of the Magnuson Health Sciences Center renovation and replacement: $58M
Built in the 1970s, Magnuson Health Sciences Center needs a major overhaul. The new facilities will promote innovative, multidisciplinary learning to over 8,000 students in the UW’s six health sciences schools (dentistry, medicine, nursing, pharmacy, public health and social work), accommodate future program growth, and support continuing education for current health-care professionals.

Design and renovate Anderson Hall in Seattle: $28.9M
Constructed in 1925, Anderson Hall has an antiquated learning environment that lacks adequate classroom and collaborative learning spaces. Renewed facilities will accommodate increased enrollment, address long-standing accessibility and safety issues, and allow for innovative learning and research in support of Washington’s environmental, economic and societal prosperity.

Design and construct phase 2 of wǝɫǝbʔaltxʷ – Intellectual House: $9M
wǝɫǝbʔaltxʷ – Intellectual House is a learning and gathering place for the UW’s American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN) students, faculty and staff and a center for sharing the knowledge of Northwest Indigenous peoples. The building aims to further support access and retention for AIAN students.

Behavioral health renovation of UW Medical Center–Northwest: $13M
This project renovates an existing psychiatric unit at UW Medical Center–Northwest, which will house voluntary adult psychiatric patients. These beds will be part of the behavioral health training program for multidisciplinary care teams centered at the Behavioral Health Teaching Facility.