Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

"Legislators: $25M gift could have affected budget; Next session could benefit WSU's Pullman campus"

Pay close attention to this quote from Senator Mark Schoesler:
In the '05-07 biennium, they dropped down the list; the (branch campuses) were treated very well. I hope it's time to get back to the parent campus, and this provides a heck of an incentive.
Scotty and I discussed this issue on The PES Monday and it was also a topic at last week's Palunchitics.

Do you think that WSU Pullman will play second fiddle in funding to the branch campuses in the next few years?

From yesterday's Moscow-Pullman-Daily News:
Ninth district legislators and Washington State University leaders had a card they couldn't show during the legislative session that just ended.

State Sen. Mark Schoesler and Rep. Joe Schmick knew WSU was in negotiations with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for the largest private gift ever given to the university - $25 million for the School of Global Animal Health.

The deal had not been sealed, however, so it was kept a secret, even though WSU asked the Legislature to include $7.4 million for design of a new veterinary medical research building in the supplement budget and $3.85 million to study global animal health.

Both requests were left out of the state's supplemental budget.

"It was unfortunate," Schoesler said. "Had we had this tool in our toolbox, I am confident that the result may have been different.

"I can't tell a donor what to do."

The Gates Foundation announced the $25 million gift, which will go toward the $35 million centerpiece building for the School of Global Animal Health, on Monday. The WSU Board of Regents created the school Friday.

"If we had been able to talk about it, I think we would have been successful, but I don't have the historic perspective that (Schoesler) has," said Schmick, who was appointed to his legislative seat last fall.

A spokesman for Gov. Chris Gregoire did not return calls seeking comment.

Schoesler said WSU's Pullman campus is due for attention in the next biennial budget process.

"In the '05-07 biennium, they dropped down the list; the (branch campuses) were treated very well," he said. "I hope it's time to get back to the parent campus, and this provides a heck of an incentive."

Schoesler said he supports WSU President Elson S. Floyd's focus on improving animal health.

"Veterinary medicine is widely popular," he said. "People understand it whether they have small or large animals and there is a global need as well. It follows with what President Floyd has said, to do what we do well even better.

"It's a showcase for WSU as a land-grant university."

Schoesler said the state's bonding capacity is low because of corrections projects and capital projects at other university campuses, such as the Life Sciences buildings at WSU-Spokane.

"The entire budget process will be under a crunch for bonding capability for capital budget projects. The majority party has been heavy in nontraditional areas," Schoesler said.

But, he added, "Cougars are always eternal optimists."

1 comment:

Michael said...

I understand why WSU might have wanted to keep this quiet during the session. I vividly recall when my first college solicited a donation during a session and the legislature responded by reducing our funding by an equal amount.