CWU priorities included in governor’s 2024 supplemental budget proposals

| January 24, 2024 1:00 AM

ELLENSBURG – The Office of Governor Jay Inslee released its Supplemental Operating and Capital Budget proposals for the 2024 fiscal year on Wednesday, including funding for several ongoing Central Washington University projects and priorities.

According to CWU President Jim Wohlpart, the funded items will improve the overall student experience and help the university live into our values of student access and success and environmental sustainability and stewardship.

“We’re grateful to the Governor’s Office for supporting several critical priorities that align with our vision, mission, and values,” he said. “This funding will help us implement critical steps in our strategic plan relating to environmental sustainability and providing for students’ basic needs in an equity-minded way. These priorities also align with our unifying value of student success.”

The supplemental budget proposals for CWU include $12.4 million for a secondary GeoEco Plant that will work in tandem with the already-funded geothermal well that will soon be developed alongside CWU’s new North Academic Complex.

CWU has indicated a commitment to reducing its carbon footprint by transitioning heating systems away from natural gas. With a secondary GeoEco Plant, the university will be able to heat and cool more buildings via the carbon-neutral process of exchanging heat with the naturally occurring aquifer beneath its Ellensburg campus.

Additionally, the Governor’s Office proposes providing $4.5 million to help decarbonize the Science 1 building, the oldest in the recently completed “Science Neighborhood” on the Ellensburg campus. The process will eliminate inefficiencies in the facility’s heating and power systems, improve the lighting and ventilation systems, and install technology that will help dispose of harmful byproducts.

These initiatives are part of Washington’s efforts to become a nationwide leader on sustainability and environmental stewardship initiatives.

“People from across the United States are watching, and being inspired by, the work happening here in Washington,” Wohlpart said. “The way in which Central Washington University is leading the way in decarbonization and sustainability sets our society up for a much greener future.”

In addition to the two sustainability projects at CWU, the supplemental budgets propose $398,000 for a Student Basic Needs package, aimed at making one-time funded positions critical to student basic needs as ongoing positions.

This funding, should it be approved by the Legislature, would go toward supporting students’ most basic needs, while advancing the welfare of CWU’s student body. This would include a food pantry coordinator for the Wildcat Pantry, P.A.T.H. – Prevention, Advocacy, Training and Healing – advocates for the Office of Health Promotion, and financial aid coaches.

“We know that every one of our students we serve today—and those who we will serve tomorrow— has the potential to be successful,” Wohlpart said. “We need to ask ourselves, as a university, which elements of student success we own so they can take down the barriers that often stand in the way of that success.”

The 2024 Washington legislative session will run from January 8 to March 7. A final state budget will be approved by the Legislature in the spring and sent to Inslee for his approval.