State Relations

March 27, 2021

Session news: Senate and House publish draft budgets with investments in higher education

The Senate and House released their proposed 2021-23 operating and capital budgets this week, which include solid investments in the higher education sector and alleviate fears of across-the-board cuts due to poor 2020 revenue forecasts. Federal COVID-19 relief funding and improved revenue collections ultimately eliminated the need for sizable cuts.

For the University of Washington, the Senate and House operating budgets maintain the University’s base budget without requiring faculty and staff to take mandated furlough days as proposed by the Governor in December (Senate Bill 5323). The operating budgets also carry forward approximately $4.3 million of funding originally intended to partially fund salary increases in fiscal year 2021 for UW faculty and staff paid by state funding and tuition revenue, which were not instituted last year due to the fiscal emergency caused by COVID-19.

The Senate and House operating budgets look nearly identical for the University with major investments including:

  • $40M for UW Medical Center and Harborview Medical Center over the biennium to support their role as the leading health care provider to Medicaid, Medicare, and uninsured patients across the state (Senate proposed ongoing funding, and House proposed one-time funding in the 2021-23 biennium);
  • $1M annually for the UW School of Dentistry in ongoing support to sustain their role as the state’s oral health safety-net care provider;
  • $2.29M annually, beginning FY23, for the UW School of Medicine program in Spokane for rent and operations of a new, state-of-the-art teaching facility critical for continued accreditation;
  • $1.44M annually in maintenance and operations, beginning in FY23, for the Health Sciences Education Building in Seattle, which allow for interdisciplinary team-based learning for the UW’s six health science schools;
  • $2.44M to continue planned funding ramp-ups for two psychiatry workforce investments over the biennium, including two child and adolescent psychiatry fellowships and four psychiatry residencies; and
  • A revised One Washington central services funding formula for the University, which significantly reduces assumed payments from the University to fund the state’s new financial system.

Additionally, the House included $35 million in one-time funding for UW Medicine from federal relief funds to address lost revenue resulting from the pandemic and given their central role in COVID-19 response efforts. They also included $6 million over the biennium via proviso for new enrollment slots in the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering focused on traditionally underrepresented students. Both budget proposals included several provisos or funding for pending legislation, such as Senate Bill 5227.

The capital budget proposals also invest in the University:

  • $45.4M to construct an interdisciplinary teaching and research facility for the College of Engineering in Seattle (Senate & House);
  • $36M to construct a new business and engineering building at UW Tacoma using cross-laminated timber (Senate & House);
  • $5M in design funding for phase 2 of the Magnuson Health Sciences Center renovation and replacement (Senate only);
  • $10 million for critical repairs to the UW Power Plant (Senate & House); and
  • $191.25M to build a new state-of-the-art Behavioral Health Teaching Facility on the campus of UW Medical Center-Northwest (Senate & House).

Unfortunately, the House and Senate budget proposals did not include design funding to plan renovation needs for Anderson Hall in Seattle, which was included in the Governor’s proposal. The House proposal excluded almost all the higher education sector’s design requests.

Overall, the State Relations team is thrilled with these proposals and greatly appreciates the bipartisan collaboration that went into them, as well as the strong support for the UW.

The House and Senate will now begin negotiating toward compromise budgets. The budgets must be finalized and sent to the Governor by April 25, which is the last scheduled day of the 2021 legislative session.

For an in-depth overview of the Senate and House operating and capital budget proposals, the UW Office of Planning and Budgeting prepared a brief summarizing the proposals here.

The Office of State Relations will hold a brief update on the legislative session on Apr. 2 from 1–1:30 p.m. State Relations Director Joe Dacca will share the latest news from Olympia, including a review of the budget proposals. To register for this meeting, click here (UW NetID is required). Due to the number of attendees already registered, questions are encouraged to be submitted in advance of the meeting to