Washington Legislature to cut $13.5 million from WSU - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Washington Legislature to cut $13.5 million from WSU

PULLMAN, Wash. – A compromise House-Senate budget has passed the Legislature that cuts Washington State University's funding for the coming year by approximately the amount recommended by Gov. Christine Gregoire last January.

WSU's operating budget will be reduced by $13.5 million for the second year of the biennium or about 6.3 percent by the compromise budget that still faces votes on the floors of each house. These cuts are in addition to the reduction of $54 million that lawmakers made last year for WSU for the biennium.

There is not expected to be any reduction in financial aid grant funding to WSU students because nearly all of the state need grants were preserved. However, the Legislature does appear to have preserved about two-thirds of the state work study funding that was cut in the governor's preliminary budget.

"We are pleased that the budget reductions for WSU are within the parameters that we had expected. The $13.5 million reduction is consistent with the governor's original proposal and with what we were anticipating in this most difficult budget year," said WSU President Elson S. Floyd.

There are some bright spots in the budget for WSU.

$15 million project to upgrade the school's aging WSU Student Services core computing system. Much of the system is 30-40 years old. It is failing and that puts in jeopardy many core university functions including admissions, registration, financial aid, advising, transcripts, and the collection of tuition.

Continuing student financial aid funding will provide access to WSU for thousands of students.

$3.5 million to expand design of the Riverpoint Biomedical and Health Sciences Building for an additional 46,000 square feet. The expansion was recommended by the Senate but was not in the governor's or House proposals. The 2009 Legislature authorized a $45 million building. This 2010 budget will expand it to a $78 million facility that will accommodate expanded medical education in Spokane.

Passage of a $500 million referendum that could provide building renovation funds for WSU and other universities to improve energy efficiency

Extension of the state lottery to benefit student financial aid.

"I am particularly pleased with the restoration of the state need grant and the work study program. Those two programs are instrumental to our efforts to safeguard access to higher education for all Washingtonians," Floyd said.

 "Also, the investment in expanded medical education facilities in Spokane and the legislative support for funding for our core computing systems are absolutely critical in achieving our institutional priorities," he said.

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