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Gov. recommends Central for $97 million in construction

Jayna Smith, Assistant News Editor - January 9, 2013

Gov. Christine Gregoire’s proposal for Central’s nearly $97 million construction budget is a record breaking step in the multi-layered stages of budget approval.

According to Linda Schactler, executive director of CWU public affairs, Central doesn’t often show up this early in proposals.

“We are so happy to be out of the gate and in really good shape,” Schactler said.

In the governor’s 2013-15 state capital budget, five of Central’s top six priorities were included with the Science Phase II project at a suggested $65 million.

According to Kirk Johnson, dean of the college of sciences, it has been 14 years since the Science Phase I project was completed in 1997.

Those in the department are glad to see a step in the right direction.

“We’re all excited that we have such a strong showing in the budget,” Johnson said.

According to Johnson, the Science Phase II project was supposed to have begun right after the Phase I project ended. Johnson said if all goes well he expects the rest of the construction for the science building can finally be completed by 2015.

Of the other major projects for Central considered in the proposed budget: Combined Utilities would get $8 million, Nutrition Science $3.96 million, Peterson Hall $4.9 million and Brooks Library Learning Commons another $4.9 million.

Also included would be an additional $9.5 million towards preserving other state facilities.

Of Central’s top six priorities, Samuelson Communication and Technology Center, which would house the Communications, Information Technology and Public Relations Departments, was left out of the governor’s proposal.

As one of the oldest buildings on campus, according to Schactler, Samuelson did score well but still fell short of the other top five.

César Garcia, department chair of communications, wasn’t surprised that Samuelson wasn’t included in the budget.

“We don’t bring in huge grants, so the administration tends to prioritize,” Garcia said.

STEM degrees (science, technology, engineering and math) get more points than humanities when the proposals are reviewed, according to Schactler.

Also, the budget for Samuelson was submitted two years ago while the rest of the programs were submitted during the summer of 2012.

“I don‘t think [Samuelson] is out of the running for this year,” Schactler said.

With the budget still having to go to the legislature, and then along to the newly elected Gov. Jay Inslee, Central still has a long road ahead before any construction can begin.

With the governor’s initial proposal released, the budget will be reviewed again when the legislative session begins on Jan. 14.

Schactler said the goal is to show up in every budget until the proposed budget is fully revised and approved.

“We know it’s the beginning of a really long process,” Schactler said.

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