Operating Budget: How Did Your Higher Ed Issues Fare?

Late on Friday, June 30, Governor Inslee signed the 2017-19 biennial operating budget into law. The UW and the higher education sector fared quite well, even as lawmakers focused on meeting their paramount obligation of funding K-12 education. We’re pleased to see investment in the entire spectrum of education reflected in the state’s operating budget. Our friends at UW State Relations have written a comprehensive post about the UW’s legislative outcomes here

When we polled alumni, advocates and friends of the UW prior to the session, we learned that they care about 3 main issues:

  • Access and affordability
  • Quality of education
  • Preparing students for jobs our economy needs

How did the UW fare on state investment for these priorities?

Access and affordability: UW Impact focused its advocacy mostly on securing investment in the State Need Grant (SNG), which provides tuition support for the state’s neediest students, at nearly all post-secondary institutions – from public to private, 2-year to 4-year, plus trade schools.  The Legislature granted $12 million to expand the SNG, plus $38 million to adjust for tuition increases.

Quality of education: Brilliant faculty are a key component of an education at a top-ranked university like the UW. Retention of this faculty is critical for maintaining excellence. UW Impact advocates found this to be our most compelling issue this year, and sent hundreds of emails to their officials to push for competitive compensation. The Legislature granted $13.1 million to partially fund modest wage increases, and fully funded collective bargaining agreements for staff.

Preparing students for jobs our economy needs: Demand far exceeds supply in high-demand degree areas such as engineering, computer science and other STEM fields.  UW Impact advocates made sure to remind legislators that investment was needed in all high-demand degrees at all 3 UW campuses. The Legislature granted $2 million to expand STEM enrollments by 60 students.

Thank you, advocates. Together with the efforts of UW’s State Relations team, the efforts of other universities and their advocates, and voices like yours, we achieved significant victories in a very tough budget environment.