Mixed Bag of Budget Results – Fight for LSDF Continues
**UPDATE** – Write to Governor Inslee today to ask him to save the future of the LSDF by clicking here.
Budget negotiators from the House and the Senate released their supplemental budget yesterday, and the news for the UW is mixed.
The great news is a continued tuition freeze, which was the UW’s top legislative priority — an investment UW Impact advocates wholeheartedly endorsed. Lawmakers held funding levels steady, allowing tuition to stay frozen for a second year. The budget also included $1 million for the UW’s Institute for Protein Design, an investment we advocated for throughout the session. The funding will support commercialization of the IPD’s innovative research.
The Life Sciences Discovery Fund (LSDF), another priority among UW Impact advocates, didn’t fare as well. The Senate had originally eliminated the LSDF and all its funding as of June, 2014, which would have left current projects stripped of their funding, and researchers scrambling. The budget that emerged yesterday does fund the existing contracts, which is a small victory, but phases out the LSDF as a grant-making entity.
This is a disappointing outcome for a critical source of research funds with an incredible, proven return on investment. We know that top university administrators, researchers and biotech entrepreneurs are planning to call on the Governor to veto this portion of the budget, and we will join them in this fight. UW Impact advocates wrote nearly 1400 messages to legislators on behalf of the LSDF this session, and your activism helped save the current contracts. Click here now to implore Governor Inslee to allow the LSDF to retain its grant-making capabilities to 2017 and beyond.
Students in desperate need of state financial aid also saw a disappointing finish to the session. In January, we asked the state to fully fund the State Need Grant in order to provide aid funds to the 32,000 students who are currently eligible, but unserved. An estimated $135 million is needed to provide aid to all eligible students, and we received $5 million through passage of the REAL Hope/Dream Act. It is a small step in the right direction, but the program remains largely underfunded and unable to serve thousands. Lots more work is left to be done.
For more budget highlights and information, see the UW State Relations Blog.