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Central Washington University

CWU’s Top Budget Priorities Receive State Funding

Thursday, May 9, 2019

The Washington state legislature approved Central Washington University’s top budget priority—funding to complete a new Health Sciences building—along with several other important requests during the legislative session, which adjourned on April 28.

“We approached the legislature with several critical and necessary budget requests that allow us to continue providing the best quality educational programs and facilities to our students and staff,” noted CWU President James L. Gaudino. “We’re extremely pleased that the legislators saw fit to provide funding for many of our most in-demand projects and programs.”

In the approved state capital budget, the legislature agreed to fund CWU’s highest priority, which was completing the new Health Sciences Building. The budget included $32 million to finish construction of the building and allows CWU to consolidate all of its health sciences programs, currently spread across campus, into a single, modern facility.

“The funding for the Health Sciences Building is long overdue,” said Linda Schactler, who is Chief of Staff for the Office of the President. “This project has been in the works since 2010 and first received funding in 2011. The high-demand fields within health sciences have been suffering from capacity constraints as well as inadequate labs. The project will be a huge boost for the students and faculty.”

The approved budget also includes $5 million to renovate and expand 60-year-old Nicholson Pavilion to provide space needed to accommodate increased demand in the Department of Physical Education, School Health, and Movement Studies. CWU is the state’s top provider of health and physical education teachers.

“Construction that occurs at Central Washington University serves as a major economic stimulus locally,” said Ellensburg City Manager John Akers. “Projects the size of the Health Sciences building create jobs and generate revenue for the city.”

The state operating budget included good news for CWU, most notably funding for cost-of-living increases for employees. All state employees will receive a 3 percent pay increase on July 1, 2019 and then another 3 percent on July 1, 2020. Since roughly one in seven jobs in Ellensburg are at CWU, this will be another boost to the local economy.

Other CWU budget priorities funded in the operating budget include:
• $1 million to address the statewide teacher shortage through expanding capacity in alternative route to certification programs and future teacher academies at high schools.
• $768,000 to increase mental health counseling.
• $442,000 for the Game On program, which uses computer science training and soccer to teach leadership skills to high school students.

The legislature also dramatically increased higher education affordability statewide by committing $162 million to fully funding the State Need Grant and increased the eligibility for students up to the full median family income, which is about $92,000 for a family of four . Of the roughly 4,700 CWU students eligible for a State Need Grant, nearly 1,400 did not receive one due to lack of funding. This commitment to state financial aid will make college affordable to many more low-income Washingtonians.

“We’re especially grateful that the legislature made higher education a priority during this legislative session,” Schactler said. “The budget is a boost to the local economy and creates opportunity at Central and all over the state.

The budget legislation is now in the hands of Governor Inslee to sign or veto, which he must do no later than May 21.

Media contact: Richard Moreno, Department of Public Affairs, 509-963-2714,

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