Washington Gov. Jay Inslee released his 2016 supplemental budget proposal on Dec. 17 in preparation of the upcoming legislative session that begins on Monday, Jan. 11.
In September’s supplemental budget request, Western resubmitted two proposals – the Student Success and Achievement Initiative and the Network/Wireless Renewal Initiative; unfortunately, neither received funding. Noteworthy in the Governor’s budget is an appropriation to settle a long running lawsuit (Moore vs. the Health Care Authority) brought by state employees who worked at least half-time on nonstandard work schedules. These employees were eligible for employer-paid health insurance that the State failed to provide. At the current time, Western’s estimated cost for this settlement is $988,000, but the settlement has not been finalized, and many details have yet to be provided. The impact of this settlement on Western’s budget will not be realized until after the legislative session ends this spring. The Budget Office will continue to analyze the proposed settlement and share information with affected areas.
The Governor’s Supplemental Capital Budget did not fund any new projects for Higher Ed. Western had requested $4.85 million for Emergency Response Improvements related to Access Control but the request was not funded. We are planning to continue to ask for this much needed project for the 2017-19 capital budget request cycle. Western did receive an appropriation to help pay for the Morse Hall (Chemistry Building) Fire in the amount of $422,000 in minor works. This appropriation was offset by a reduction in reappropriation funding Western received for the 2015-17 biennium. So there was no gain for Western, but we will now be able to use the $422,000 to help pay for the fire repairs if this part of the budget passes.
The budget processes now move to the House and Senate before final budget bills should be passed in mid-March when the session ends.