State Relations

April 7, 2020

Governor signs budget but vetoes new spending in response to COVID-19

On Friday, April 3, Gov. Jay Inslee signed the supplemental operating budget into law, but vetoed 147 new funding items approved by the legislature to reduce spending by nearly $445 million over the next three years. The Governor used his veto powers in anticipation of a significant decline in state revenue due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

One of the most significant impacts to the higher education community is the Governor’s veto stopping the transfer of funds from the General Fund to the Workforce Education Investment Account (WEIA, created by HB 2158) to ensure it remains solvent due to increased demand for the Washington College Grant. This may complicate the funding available in the WEIA for previously committed allocations for student financial aid and critical higher education needs.

Gov. Inslee also vetoed funding for multiple new UW programs and projects, including technology to improve the UW Medicine’s paramedic training program.

However, the UW retained funding for requested one-time bonuses for the UW’s represented employees, as well as the Joint Center for Aerospace Technology and Innovation (JCATI). The UW also retained the foundational support received last session and received additional funds to train sexual assault nurse examiners in rural areas around the state, address sexual misconduct on campus, and increase telemedicine efforts.

Additionally, the University obtained an initial allocation of $10 million for COVID-19 testing at UW Medicine. UW Medicine performs nearly 75 percent of the COVID-19 testing for Washington state, and has now conducted over 50,000 tests. The UW will continue to work closely with state and federal partners on COVID-19 response efforts and remain an integral part of the ongoing fight to slow the virus.

For a comprehensive summary of the Governor’s budget actions, take a look at the “2020 State Supplemental Budgets” brief on the UW Office of Planning & Budgeting Briefs page.

The legislature will likely reconvene for a special session after the next revenue forecast in June to address COVID-19 impacts. Stay tuned for updates.