It’s fall. Where’s our budget?
Back in June, the Legislature passed Washington’s 2017-19 operating budget. In it, the University of Washington was successful in achieving some of its legislative objectives, such as expanding access to the State Need Grant, increasing funding that allows for more STEM enrollments, modest wage increases for faculty, and bargaining agreements for staff.
Left lingering since then has been the state’s capital budget, which funds hundreds of construction projects and thousands of jobs in the state. This budget includes improvements to our UW campuses, including construction of the new Burke museum and UW Tacoma’s historic Urban Solutions Center building renovation. Until a capital budget is passed, the University may only move forward with projects that have previous capital budget funding. In some cases, the deferred state funding may result in increased construction costs, delayed projects, and loss of jobs.
This budget has been shelved until legislators can reach an agreement on how to address water rights in Eastern Washington. Some members of the Legislature have asked the governor to overturn the state Supreme Court’s Hirst ruling, which limits domestic well use in some rural areas. Until this water-rights dispute is resolved, state legislators are unlikely to vote on a capital budget. Will we have to wait until the 2018 supplemental session for a capital budget?
What can you do in the meantime? Consider contacting your legislators now, while they’re in back in your neighborhoods. Meet for coffee this fall and ask where they stand on the issue of the unresolved capital budget. Let them know that you care about the continuum of education – not only are UW projects hanging in the balance, but many K-12 school construction plans are also in limbo. A robust and functional capital budget is critical for our state’s education aims.
Let us help! Contact us for assistance in setting up appointments, speaking points and other prep. We make it easy for you to advocate.