Friday, March 30, 2007


Budget Budget Budget

More on the proposed budget for the state of Washington. Still looks good for Eastern in terms of its wish list on capital projects. Here's an update from the Spokesman Review.

Friday, March 30, 2007

'Positive year for higher ed'

Shawn Vestal Staff writer
The Senate budget includes money for an "unprecedented" growth in college enrollments statewide, an expansion of several financial aid programs, and construction projects on Inland Northwest campuses.
The Senate also proposes spending $11.2 million to establish medical and dental programs at the Riverpoint campus in Spokane, $5.6 million for biofuels research at Washington State University, and $3.5 million toward an Applied Sciences Lab in Spokane to help develop spinoff companies and other business applications from university research.
"It's a very positive year for higher ed, both in terms of the system and expanding access, but also for students and families concerned about access and affordability," said Majority Leader Lisa Brown, D-Spokane.
As the third and final budget plan to emerge this year – after the governor and the House made their proposals – the Senate budget has a similar strategy to the others: Place caps on tuition increases, increase funding to put more students into college, and focus on producing graduates that will help drive the state's economy.
"All the educational investments we're making are part of the foundation for future economic prosperity," said Karen Fraser, D-Olympia.
The biggest single construction project funded on Eastern Washington campuses is the new life sciences building under way in Pullman. That project would get $58 million.
Eastern Washington University would get $10.8 million for renovating Hargreaves Hall, as well as money to begin designing a remodeling of Patterson Hall.
Here are the key provisions of the budget in terms of higher education:
•A total of $110 million to add enrollments at the state's colleges and universities, including funds dedicated toward increasing math and science majors, and adding students in high-demand fields such as engineering.
•Increases of $70 million in financial aid programs directed toward the State Need Grant, including a provision that raises the eligibility level for that program from 66 percent of the state median family income to 75 percent.
•Nearly $11 million for programs to help prevent students from leaving school without their degrees. The "retention and completion" strategies are specifically targeted to low-income and first-generation students.
•A total of more than $42 million toward programs to recruit and retain faculty members, equalize pay for part-time instructors at community colleges, and provide raises for community college instructors.
•The budget allows annual tuition increases of 7 percent at research universities such as WSU, 5 percent at regional schools like EWU, and 2 percent at community colleges.

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