Posted: Dec. 18, 2012
Central Washington University and the greater Ellensburg economy would flourish under the construction budget proposed by Gov. Chris Gregoire. The governor’s 2013-15 state capital budget for CWU totals nearly $97 million and proposes to fund five of the university’s six top priorities: Science Phase II ($65.4 million), Combined Utilities ($8 million), Nutrition Science ($3.96 million), Peterson Hall ($4.9), and Brooks Library Learning Commons ($4.9 million). The budget proposes another $9.5 million for work to preserve state facilities.
“This proposal means hundreds of well-paying jobs for the region and up-to-date facilities for physics, geology, the library, health sciences, and the Reserve Officer Training Corps,” said CWU President James L. Gaudino, noting that proposed funding for Science Phase II was especially gratifying. “This plan fulfills a promise made in 1996 when the legislature opted to construct the science building in two phases; phase two has been a long time coming!”
Ellensburg City Manager Ted Barkley said millions in construction spending would breathe life into the local construction economy. Except for the construction of CWU’s Hogue Addition, the local construction economy has stood largely idle since in 2009. At the height of construction, work on the CWU Hogue Addition employed nearly 200 people throughout central Washington. Barkley said that, although it’s too soon to know what budget will come out of the 2013 legislative session, the Gregoire budget is promising news for the greater Ellensburg community.
“The health and continued growth of CWU is key to the vibrancy of our economy,” said Barkley. “Capital projects create good jobs, but they also generate tax revenue that supports everything from police and fire services to health care and parks.”
The 2013 session of the state legislature will convene on January 14, and continue in regular session for 105 days. Among the highest priorities of the legislature will be to write new operating, capital, and transportation budgets for the next two-year budget period, 2013-2015. Gregoire’s budget proposal likely will be followed, at a minimum, by those of incoming Governor Jay Inslee and the House and Senate.
Gregoire also proposed a plan for the biennial operating budget. Key components included restoring funds associated with a 3-percent cut in wages. The governor suggests universities use those funds to pay for collective bargaining agreements, which would receive no funding under the governor’s plan. The budget does not reduce overall funding for public universities. Gregoire recommends no increase in tuition rates, but acknowledges that universities may increase tuition as long as a portion of the revenue is set aside for financial aid