OLYMPIA – With warnings to the state’s two largest universities to work out their disputes, Senate budget writers approved a change in the law that would give Washington State University permission to start its own medical school in Spokane.
The Senate Ways and Means Committee unanimously voted to support a bill that would change a law giving the University of Washington the sole authority to operate a state medical school. WSU would have the authority to start a second school on its Spokane campus, but the bill has no money attached.
The committee discussed, but ultimately dropped, an amendment to have the Legislature step in if the two universities don’t resolve conflicts over money and buildings the state has provided for the five-state WWAMI program in Spokane. Sen. Andy Billig, D-Spokane, said the bill is only about changing an out-dated and leaves spending up to the Legislature at some future date.
Sen. Randi Becker, R-Eatonville, a budget committee member who heads the Health Care Committee, said she supports another medical school and agreed “grudgingly” to withdraw the amendment. But she admonished university officials.
“All of us on this committee want this worked out,” she said. “You don’t want us to work it out.”