Skip to content

State budget passage is much needed investment in Washington’s future

This weekend, the Washington Legislature made a significant and profoundly forward-looking investment in our state’s future when it passed a state budget for the next two years. I’m grateful to the members of the House and Senate, as well as Governor Jay Inslee, for their hard work and vision that made this truly the “year of higher education.”

The legislation that passed on Sunday, once signed into law, will have a substantial impact on the UW’s ability to fulfill and advance our public service mission. The new budget will provide greater foundational funding for the UW so that we can better support our talented faculty and staff. It also fully funds the State Need Grant, now to be called the Washington College Grant, increasing equity and opportunity for all Washington students. In our state, higher education is affordable and achievable, regardless of family income. The budget also increases our capacity in high-demand fields on all three campuses, particularly in engineering.

To fund many of these vital initiatives, including the Washington College Grant, legislators created a dedicated source of revenue through an increase in the Business and Occupation Tax on certain professional businesses and services. Making this connection between those industries that benefit most from college graduates and the funding of higher education is an important milestone. I especially thank those businesses, such as Microsoft and Amazon, that supported this legislation actively during the session.

The budget also includes critical support for the UW’s hospitals and clinics, including the clinics in the School of Dentistry. As the state’s largest public health care provider, this funding will help ensure we remain a vital safety net for the patients who need us most. Legislators also began the important work of overhauling our state’s mental and behavioral health system, including through the establishment of a behavioral health teaching hospital within UW Medicine. This critical effort is just beginning, but must be successful if our state is to truly meet the health care needs of its residents.

I also applaud the Legislature’s vote to approve Initiative 1000, thereby repealing I-200’s ban on the use of affirmative action policies in education, government employment and contracting. In our increasingly diverse state and nation, this change will improve the UW’s ability to attract not only the most talented students from underrepresented backgrounds, but also talented and diverse faculty and staff and business and industry partners.

Finally, I want to thank the many, many people who advocated passionately for not only the University of Washington, but for all the public higher education institutions that are serving the students and communities of our state. Students, faculty, staff and friends, including members of UW Impact, used their personal time to advocate continually for this tremendous commitment to the education, health and prosperity of Washington. Together with the tireless work of our government relations, budget office and communications teams, the results of their efforts are a vivid reminder that together, we can achieve great things for our students and communities.

We can create change that advances a more prosperous, educated and equitable world. I am deeply grateful to everyone across Washington — especially our state legislators and Governor Inslee — for their tireless service, measured in hours and miles, late nights and exhaustive debates grounded in the public good. They will enable the UW to continue to serve our students, state and society as part of our proud public mission as the University for Washington.