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Preview: UW’s 2024 legislative priorities

The 2024 legislative session begins on Monday, Jan. 8 and is scheduled to run for 60 consecutive days. During this short-session, state lawmakers will negotiate modest adjustments to the state’s biennial operating, capital, and transportation budgets.

The University of Washington appreciates the recent investments the legislature has made to support higher education and the UW Medicine health system. State support remains essential to the UW’s long-term viability and pursuit of providing an excellent and accessible education for all Washington students, improving the health and sustainability of underserved communities, and promoting a prosperous economy.

The UW’s supplemental budget requests are limited to our top priorities in service to our students, faculty and staff, patients, and the state. The formal 2024 legislative agenda will be published in December. In the meantime, here is a preview of the UW’s priorities for the upcoming session:

Operating budget

UW School of Dentistry RIDE program expansion: $2.5M in fiscal year 2025 (ongoing)
Located in Spokane, the nationally renowned Regional Initiatives in Dental Education (RIDE) program has proven successful in training dentists to meet the needs of our state’s rural and underserved populations. RIDE’s innovative training model immerses students in community-based clinics to gain valuable field experience while also providing high quality dental care to communities with access-to-care challenges. In the classroom, RIDE is colocated with Eastern Washington University’s dental hygiene program to maximize resources and enhance training. Requested funds will enhance the RIDE program by doubling the number of students trained from 32 to 64 and by adding a second year of curriculum based in Spokane. The UW has already secured $1.5M in federal funds for dental simulation equipment and will attract additional research funding to Spokane with this expansion.

Permanent funding for the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering Startup Program: $330,000 in FY25 ($455,000 ongoing)
The UW continues to see unprecedented demand from students and employers for UW computer science degrees. The one-year cohort-based Startup Program provides holistic supports and prepares students with high potential and academic need to succeed in the CSE B.S. program. The program serves students who are first generation, low income and/or did not have access to advanced high school classes to assist in developing fundamental skills necessary for the rigor of the Allen School and the computing field. The state provided $455,000 in FY23 and one-time funding of $125,000 per year for the current biennium. This request bridges the gap in FY25 and makes the funding permanent.

UW Medicine safety net and medical training support
Serving the medical and behavioral health needs of Washington’s residents, especially those who are most vulnerable, and training the next generation of health care providers is necessary for the vitality of our state. Funding for UW Medical Center and Harborview Medical Center will further support their critical and impactful safety net care and medical training missions. UW Medicine received one-time funding for FY23 and FY24 and is making progress in addressing challenges including reimbursement rates and difficult-to-discharge patients. UW Medicine needs additional state support for FY25 to address increasing labor costs and prevent harmful service reductions.

Capital Budget

Design funding for the modernization of Chemical Sciences and Bagley Hall:  $5M
Chemistry is a core program at the UW and is required for students in most STEM and health sciences fields. Built in 1937 and 1957, the current facilities are overwhelmed by student demand and program constraints and do not meet the requirements for interdisciplinary, modern science education and research. Updating our facilities will help meet course demand and increase degree production as well as attract and retain world-class faculty conducting leading edge research.

Campus decarbonization projects:  $48.9M (Climate Commitment Account)
The UW has identified six projects that support foundational energy renewal and decarbonization efforts across all three campuses (Seattle, Bothell, Tacoma) and UW Medical Center facilities. The projects include: UW Seattle centralized chilled water capacity improvements, Clean Energy Institute tenant improvements and research-related needs, UW Bothell Central Plant improvements and gas boiler replacements, UW Tacoma gas boiler replacement, UWMC NW Campus Central Utility Plant planning, and UWMC Montlake Campus HVAC systems renewal. More information about the UW’s decarbonization strategy and plans can be found at UW Sustainability | Energy Transformation.


For questions, please contact Joe Dacca, Director of State Relations, at or Morgan Hickel, Associate Director of State Relations, at

State revenue forecasted to increase 3% in the 2023-25 biennium

Washington’s September economic and revenue forecast was released Tuesday with state general fund revenues projected to reach $66.7 billion for the 2023-25 budget cycle, which began July 1. This is an increase of 3% over expected revenue in the 2021-23 biennium. Most of the additional revenue comes from retail and sales use, business and occupation (B&O), public utility, and non-cigarette tobacco product taxes. Real estate excise tax (REET) collections also came in higher than anticipated.

The Workforce Education Investment Account (WEIA), which funds many higher education priorities including student financial aid and faculty and staff compensation, saw increased projections of $28 million in the 2023-25 biennium bringing total estimated WEIA revenue to $838 million.

In Washington, total employment increased by 4,800 with August seeing the largest gains. The health care sector had the biggest increases in employment followed by construction and manufacturing. The state’s unemployment rates continue to trend down with the rate at a historic all-time low since employment data started being tracked in 1958. Overall, employment is expected to increase by 2.3% this year. This is in stark contrast to three and a half years ago when the pandemic was raging and Washington unemployment rate saw an all-time high of 16.3%.

As a whole, Washington’s economy is trending in the right direction. Personal income in Washington is also growing and Seattle-area home prices stopped declining in June for the first time in 11 months. However, it is worth noting that forecasters are keeping an eye on consumer price inflation in the Seattle area, which is higher than the national average, and energy prices. At the national level, higher interest rates, grain and oil prices, and the federal shutdown are the biggest threats.

More details can be found in the September economic and revenue forecast on the Washington State Economic and Revenue Forecast Council’s website here.

Rep. Ramel tours UW Friday Harbor Laboratories on San Juan Island

Last week, Rep. Alex Ramel (D) and congressional staffers participated in a tour of the UW Friday Harbor Laboratories (FHL) on San Juan Island and the surrounding area. The world-renowned laboratories offer faculty, researchers, and students unique opportunities to study the marine world and ecosystems throughout the San Juan Archipelago.

To kick off the tour, Rep. Ramel and the staffers received a Safety at Sea briefing from Jenna Keeton with the Washington Sea Grant (WSG). Jenna is a Fisheries Specialist who trains commercial fishing and charter boat crews in emergency preparedness to reduce risks and fatalities in the fishing industry. She instructed the group in the use of cold-water immersion survival suits and had volunteers participate in a 90-second suit-up drill. Once in their survival suits, they were invited to get into the water to learn firsthand how the suits work and to put their newfound safety and survival knowledge to the test. Additionally, Jenna shared how she uses her expertise in sustainable fisheries, the seafood industry, fish ecology, and fisheries economics to help address the needs of Washington’s fisheries-dependent communities.

Following their adventures in the water and after sunset, the group took flashlights to the FHL dock and submerged them into the water to see the active marine life. They learned about the various species they saw and the overall ecosystem from Jenna and Stephanie Harrington with the UW College of the Environment.

The following day, Rep. Ramel and the staffers jumped into small boats to visit a healthy bull kelp bed located at Turn Island. While there, FHL’s Director, Dr. Megan Dethier, and Graduate Student, Kindall Murray, highlighted the many benefits of bull kelp and shared how its declining in the Puget Sound region due to warming ocean temperatures and other known and unknown factors. They are actively researching the stressors on bull kelp with the ultimate goal of helping to conserve and even restore the kelp beds.

After, the group met with Dr. Deborah Giles with Wild Orca to learn about the endangered Southern Resident Orcas and the threats facing them, including depleted prey, vessel noise and disturbances, and pollutants. Giles discussed Wild Orca’s one-of-a-kind, non-invasive research method, which involves working with a trained orca scat scent detection dog named Eba. Using her powerful nose, Eba can detect orca feces floating in the water from up to one mile away and direct researchers toward it for collection. Once collected, the scat reveals a near real-time window into the Southern Residents health and helps inform the development of conservation efforts. Giles also emphasized how Wild Orca aims to make science actionable and accessible for the public and policymakers.

The group then piled into vans and headed to Wescott Bay Oyster Farm. Once there, Manager Chas Lawson spoke about the history of the farm and the shellfish grown there: Manila Clams, Mediterranean Mussels, and Pacific Oysters. Over lunch, Chas, Dr. Terri King with WSG, and Dr. Melissa Peacock with the Salish Sea Research Center at Northwest Indian College led a discussion on shellfish health and algal blooms, as well as the mechanics behind Washington’s shellfish industry.

A huge thank you to the UW College of the Environment for organizing and hosting this incredible behind-the-scenes tour. In addition, thank you to Rep. Alex Ramel for taking the time to participate and for supporting the UW.


Sen. Braun & Rep. Abbarno cheer on local students in UW STEM Camp engineering competition

The UW partnered with the Chehalis Foundation to host a four-day summer STEM camp at W.F. West High School this week for high school students in the Chehalis-region. Students enrolled in the camp have the opportunity to learn from engineering and medical science experts and work with cutting-edge technologies.

For the past two days, students learned about the Engineering Design Process and its applications from faculty in the UW College of Engineering. In small groups, they designed and built a Rube Goldberg machine and tested it in a competition held yesterday afternoon. Senate Minority Leader John Braun and Representative Peter Abbarno stopped by the camp to watch the competition and give the students words of encouragement before it began.

Today, students worked with scientists from the Institute for Protein Design to design custom proteins using the scientific video game Fold It. After designing their proteins, they learned how to study them in a lab.

Tomorrow, students will explore DNA, antibodies, antigens, viruses, and other elements of advanced biology with experts from the Brotman Baty Institute. They will engage in hands-on activities once again to expand and deepen their understanding of precision medicine research.

The Chehalis summer STEM camp gives students in the region a unique and fun educational experience, while also showcasing STEM degrees and pathways post-high school.

Thank you, Sen. Braun and Rep. Abbarno, for joining your local students to watch them in action as they tested their machine designs. We appreciate your continued support of the UW!


Gov. Inslee connects with students in the UW School of Medicine in Spokane program


Today, Governor Jay Inslee toured the UW School of Medicine-Gonzaga University Regional Health Partnership’s (RHP) new center for medical education, health sciences, and innovation in Spokane. Developed through a public-private partnership with McKinstry, the 80,000 square-foot building aims to help Washington state address the growing shortage of primary care physicians, particularly in rural and underserved communities.

For the UW, the new facility houses the first 18 months of the UW School of Medicine in Spokane’s medical education program and the MEDEX Northwest physician assistant education program. The building has state-of-the-art classrooms, anatomy labs, research and innovation centers, and study spaces. The students receive training in basic science and clinical education, as well as training specific to rural and underserved communities. During his visit, Gov. Inslee stopped by a classroom to see the students learning and took the opportunity to connect with them.

The new medical education facility, along with the adjacent Spokane Inland Empire Railroad (SIERR) building, creates a novel health care innovation cluster for the health science and medical industry in Spokane. Together, the UW and Gonzaga strive to expand medical education, to encourage more health professionals to learn and work in Eastern Washington, and to improve the health and wellbeing of Washington state.

Thank you, Gov. Inslee, for speaking with our state’s future physicians. We appreciate your support of the UW!

Sen. Nguyễn tours the WA Clean Energy Testbeds

Last week, Senator Joe Nguyễn visited the Washington Clean Energy Testbeds at the UW Clean Energy Institute to learn more about the open-access facility that helps accelerate the development, scale-up, and adoption of new technologies in solar harvesting, energy storage, and system integration.

Sen. Nguyễn is the Chair of the Senate Environment, Energy & Technology Committee, which considers issues related to climate change, current and emerging technologies, and the availability, production, and conservation of energy. The groundbreaking research and work being done at the Testbeds coincides with the policy considered in the Environment, Energy & Technology Committee, and may help inform future decisions by Sen. Nguyễn and his committee.

Sen. Nguyễn also serves on the Senate Ways & Means and Human Services Committees and as the Senate Democratic Assistant Floor Leader. He represents the 34th legislative district, which encompasses West Seattle and Vashon Island.

Thank you, Sen. Nguyễn, for taking the time to visit the UW and learn from our experts at the Testbeds.

New UW faculty members connect with elected officials across Washington State

Last week, 26 faculty members new to the University and state boarded a bus in Seattle for a five-day tour of Washington state. The 1,000-mile tour circles the state with stops in Olympia, Vancouver, the Tri-Cities, the Greater Spokane area, the Grand Coulee Dam, and everywhere in between. The tour highlights and provides insights into the state’s diverse geography, economy, history, and cultures and connects UW’s new faculty members with the local communities and people, including students, the University serves.

During the tour, the faculty met and engaged with statewide and local elected officials. On the first day, the tour stopped at the state Capitol in Olympia and the faculty met with Lieutenant Governor Denny Heck to learn about Washington’s history and legislative process. They were also able to sit in the Senate gallery and see where legislators convene to debate and pass policy and the state’s budgets.

In Vancouver, Rep. Sharon Wylie joined the faculty for dinner and a lecture by the School of Social Work Appointed Ballmer Endowed Dean Michael Spencer. Dr. Spencer, who is Kānaka Maoli (Native Hawaiian), focuses on health equity and culturally centered, community-based participatory research, including the integration of Native Hawaiian healers into primary care and addressing food insecurity among Native Hawaiians. His lecture focused on two of his research efforts and his findings.

Outside of Spokane, Sen. Mark Schoesler hosted the faculty at his fifth-generation dryland wheat farm in Ritzville. Sen. Schoesler shared the history of his family farm and the region, talked about farming practices and economics, and fielded questions from the faculty. He also demonstrated the sprayer and harvester used on the farm.

The Faculty Field Tour provides a unique opportunity for new faculty members from various disciplines and campuses to meet one another and experience the communities UW students call home, as well as to connect with University and state leaders.

Thank you to Lt. Governor Heck, Rep. Wylie, and Sen. Schoesler for participating and your continued support of the UW.

WA State Lt. Governor Denny Heck speaking about state government in the Capitol’s Senate Gallery
State Sen. Mark Schoesler sharing about his family-owned wheat farm in Ritzville, WA.


Remembering Senator John McCoy

Today we mourn the loss and celebrate the life of former Washington State Senator John McCoy (D – Tulalip). Senator McCoy was one of the longest-serving Native legislators in Washington state history and a true champion and advocate for Tribal Sovereignty, public education, environmental protections, and human rights. Senator McCoy served in the state House from 2003 to 2013 and then in the state Senate from 2013 until his resignation in April 2020. He was a fearless leader for Indian Country, here in Washington and across the nation. Our hearts go out to Senator McCoy’s family and loved ones.

UW in the High School is now free to students thanks to legislation sponsored by Sen. Mullet

UWHS Director Tim Stetter, Zillah High School Principal Jeff Charbonneau, Gov. Jay Inslee, Sen. Mark Mullet

Earlier this month, Governor Jay Inslee signed Senate Bill 5048 into law making College in the High School (CHS) courses free to all public high school students in Washington. Sponsored by Senator Mark Mullet, the bill passed the Senate and House unanimously after many years of legislative effort and will be in effect for the 2023-24 school year.

For more than 40 years, the UW has partnered with high schools across Washington to offer official UW courses to students in their high school classrooms. UW in the High School (UWHS) courses are taught by high school teachers approved and trained by UW faculty and the credits earned in these courses can be put toward a degree at the UW or transferred to other colleges or universities across the U.S.

Until now, CHS courses were paid for by the high school students and their families, which created inequities for low-income students who could not afford the fees. Senate Bill 5048 remedied this by eliminating the cost to high school students for CHS programs. The legislation also aims to encourage more Washington students to pursue postsecondary education.

On May 20, almost 200 high school teachers attended the UWHS Teacher Training Day to learn from UW professors and prepare for the upcoming school year. Senator Mullet also joined to connect with the teachers and faculty members, observe the training, and celebrate the passage of Senate Bill 5048.

For more information, check out the UW Continuum College’s recent post Expanding Access to UW in the High School.

Session news: Legislature passes final 2023-25 operating & capital budgets

The 2023 legislative session ended on time yesterday after the House and Senate passed the state’s biennial operating, capital, and transportation budgets. The budgets will now be delivered to the Governor for his consideration and signature.

Major investments for the UW in the operating budget include:

  • $30.4M for nonrepresented employee compensation increases of 4% in fiscal year 2024 and 3% in FY25
  • $6.5M for state approved CBAs for represented employees
  • $17.6M to improve the state portion of the compensation fund split to 60% (up from 58% in the previous biennium)
  • $10.55M to grow a local, more diverse STEM workforce at all three UW campuses:
    • $6M for the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering to increase enrollment, and $250,000 in one-time money for the Startup program
    • $1.7M for the UW Bothell School of Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics to develop a program modeled after STARS to support 75 pre-major students in accessing and graduating with computer science degrees, and $362,000 in additional support for the STARS program in Seattle
    • $2.85M for the UW Tacoma School of Engineering & Technology to increase enrollment
  • $1.4M for student support services at UW Tacoma
  • $8.5M in maintenance and operations for UW Bothell’s STEM4 building, the UW Interdisciplinary Engineering Building, and the Behavioral Health Teaching Facility
  • $3M to develop a clean energy transformation strategy that transitions the Seattle campus energy infrastructure to 100% clean energy

Investments for UW Medicine include:

  • $150M in one-time funding for UW Medical Center and Harborview Medical Center so they can continue serving as the state’s safety-net and workforce training hospitals
  • $4.9M in one-time funding for the Behavioral Health Teaching Facility for physician support and facilities fees, and $7.5M in one-time funding for costs associated with opening the facility
  • $2M for the Family Medicine Residency Network, which trains high quality family medicine physicians in the WWAMI (Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana, Idaho) region
  • $1M to create a UW Center for Indigenous Health
  • $1M to continue firearm injury research

Overall, the University’s section of the operating budget included funding for 54 new provisos and legislation.

Additionally, the capital budget makes significant investments in the UW:

  • $58M for phase 2 of the Magnuson Health Sciences Center renovation and replacement. The Center is the primary teaching space for the UW’s six health science schools and new facilities will promote innovative, multidisciplinary learning.
  • $28.65M to design and renovate Anderson Hall, which was constructed in 1925 and has an antiquated learning environment that lacks adequate classroom and collaborative spaces for the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences.
  • $9M to design and construct phase 2 of wǝɫǝbʔaltxʷ– Intellectual House. wǝɫǝbʔaltxʷ is a learning and gathering place for the UW’s American Indian and Alaskan Native students, faculty, and staff and a center for sharing the knowledge of Northwest Indigenous peoples.
  • $13M for the behavioral health renovation of UW Medical Center-Northwest. This project provides an additional 25 90/180-day long term civil-commitment beds to help meet the state’s behavioral health care needs.
  • $7.7M for land acquisition at UW Tacoma to accommodate future growth.
  • $15M from the state Climate Commitment Account for infrastructure renewal, which has historically been funded from the UW Building Account.
  • $7.5M for the UW Clean Energy Testbedsto continue to accelerate the development and adoption of new sustainable technologies.
  • $6M for the Rainier Valley Early Learning Center, which expands access to affordable, high-quality childcare and preschool in the vibrant Rainier Valley neighborhoods.
  • $3M to restore and renovate the historic ASUW Shell House.

For a comprehensive summary of the budgets, see the UW Office of Planning & Budgeting’s brief.