WSU submits 2023-25 capital budget proposal

WSU hopes to receive $155 million, using part of the funds on overdue maintenance projects



Demolition work on Johnson Hall on Jan. 17.

JOSIAH PIKE, Evergreen reporter

WSU’s 2023-25 capital budget request has been submitted to the state legislature and seeks to fund maintenance on existing buildings and the construction of a new science lab.

Christopher Mulick, senior director of state relations, said the capital budget request is submitted to the state legislature every two years and this year’s request is $155 million.

“There’s a number of renovations, but there’s also construction dollars for a new engineering and students services building,” Mulick said. “Generally speaking you’re going to see a lot of construction and a lot of focus on deferred maintenance across the WSU systems.”

Mulick said one of the major priorities in the capital budget request is WSU’s deferred maintenance backlog. There is about $1.6 billion in deferred maintenance projects and about $1 billion of that is on the Pullman campus.

Another priority in the capital budget request is the proposal to construct a new science building, he said. This project will involve demolishing Heald Hall, the biological sciences building on southside of campus, and building the new structure in its place. 

WSU is asking for funding for renovations of Eastlik Hall, Abelson Hall and a small renovation of Bustad Hall to accommodate programs that were previously run out of Heald Hall, Mulick said. 

Mulick said WSU has known for a long time that there is a backlog of maintenance to be done as there is a certain era of buildings from the 1950s–70s that were not constructed as well and are not as functional in the long term.

“We will demolish Heald and build the new science building, so the construction of the new science building will be the last thing that happens,” Mulick said. “For this particular science building, we’re talking about asking for construction money in the 2027 legislative session.”

Now that the capital budget request has been sent to the legislature, they are currently negotiating which final capital budget to approve, Mulick said. Gov. Jay Inslee submitted his proposal December 2022, which is an early step in the process.

“Next, the house will produce a proposal and the senate will produce a proposal,” he said. “Once all three are on the table, they will negotiate a compromise and send it to the Governor. We will see which proposal wins probably in early April.”

Joe Schmick, representative from the 9th district, said all major institutions in Washington submit a capital budget request and the legislature is at the beginning of the process of reviewing them, with the legislature only first convening 10 days ago.

“This is a process that I wouldn’t be surprised if they meet twice, maybe three times a week,” Schmick said.

Schmick said he usually does not participate in the budget negotiations, but is sure WSU will receive at least some of what they have requested in their budget proposal, with deferred maintenance being of high priority.

“People are going to get things they need in the budget,” Schmick said. “For WSU, you got to take care of what you have. I think that’s something that just makes good common sense.”

Schmick said it is too early to make any definitive statements on what will be negotiated and approved by the legislature considering how early it is in the process. Now that Inslee has put out his budget proposal, the next step is to bring it to negotiation in the legislature.

“That’s kind of the process and the way it’s been done for a long time,” Schmick said. “The capital budget … is one thing that has the most bipartisan support.”

Mulick said some of the benefits of this proposal will be felt by the students and faculty in the modernity of the buildings, but much of the updating of the deferred maintenance may not be noticed by students.

“No one will ever talk about, ‘boy, that’s a really beautiful roof,’ but it needs to happen,” Mulick said. “There are a lot of things people might not notice, but they’ll certainly notice them when they’re failing.”