The 2021 Legislative Session concluded yesterday after a historic 105-day session that was mostly conducted virtually due to the pandemic. Despite economic forecasts over the last year projecting decreases in state revenues, federal stimulus funding, coupled with better than projected state revenue collections resulted in a robust state 2021-23 operating budget that included important investments across state government, including in the state’s higher education system.
Western’s base budget was maintained without requiring faculty and staff to take mandated furlough days. The state’s operating budget also carries forward funding originally intended for salary increases in fiscal year 2021 for WWU faculty and staff that is supported by a combinations of state funding and tuition revenue.
Key operating budget investments for Western include:
- $1.016 million per biennia for an ethnic studies program
- $1.06 million per biennia for bilingual educator programs in the South King County region
- $1.04 million per biennia for student support services
- $300,000 per biennia for graduate assistant stipends
- $506,000 for implementation of SB 5227 – requiring Diversity, Equity and Inclusion training for faculty, students and staff
- $96,000 per biennia for a veterans mental health counselor
- $90,000 in one-time funding for WWU’s Center for Economic and Business Research to assess the feasibility and benefits of expanding outdoor residential school programs to equitably serve all fifth and sixth grade students statewide
Key capital budget investments for Western include:
- $51 million for construction of the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science building
- $4.5 million for construction of a Coast Salish-style Longhouse on Western’s campus
- $225,000 for pre-design of a new Student Development and Success Center
- $4.8 million for minor works preservation projects
- $2.5 million for classroom and lab upgrades
- $2.15 million for critical safety and access control upgrades
- $1 million for minor works programmatic projects
- $450,000 for a feasibility study to convert WWU’s heating system to a more energy efficient system
A detailed comparison of the 2021-23 capital budget proposals can be found here from the WWU Capital Planning and Development Office, and the WWU Budget Office will be developing a detailed analysis of the final operating budget in the coming days.