Session Recap – and One Final Call to Action

The 2014 legislative session ended on March 13, and the UW and higher education enjoyed another year of incremental, but important higher education investments. We continue to build evidence to demonstrate how the thousands of messages we send to Olympia help facilitate policy that’s good for the UW and good for the future of Washington.

Here is a quick highlight of higher education successes based on the UW’s 2014 legislative agenda:

  • A continued tuition freeze for resident undergraduate students.
  • $5 million in additional State Need Grant funds to fund the REAL Hope/DREAM Act.
  • $1 million for the UW’s Institute for Protein Design (a UW priority).
  • Passage of HB 2163, which saves the UW approximately $700,000 per year in payroll efficiencies (a UW priority).

We also celebrated passage of the Real Hope/Dream Act this session, which was a victory for all of Washington’s public higher education institutions. This new law will allow high school graduates brought here illegally as children to be eligible for the state financial resources necessary to go to college.

Despite several great investments, the legislative session ended with the Life Sciences Discovery Fund still in limbo. The budget no longer eliminates the $11 million in existing UW grant commitments, but it does eliminate all future LSDF funding.

Since the LSDF was established in 2005 to distribute $350 million in tobacco settlement monies, the fund has become a catalyst for fascinating higher education research. LSDF grants launched successful ventures such as the UW’s Institute for Protein Design, which the Legislature just deemed worthy of an $1 million investment to support its commercialization efforts!

We have hope that the Governor will recognize the great value UW and health sciences research bring to our economy and health. That’s why we are asking our advocates to send the Governor a letter to ask for a budget veto by April 5. Other legislators have also joined the effort and sent their own budget veto requests to the Governor. It’s not too late to join the thousands of Huskies who have already sent a message of support for LSDF – click here to learn more and to add your voice.