By: Linda Schactler | CWU Public Affairs
Published: May 26, 2011
Lawmakers closed a $5.1 billion budget gap in part by reducing state support for public higher education by about $535 million. Nearly $30 million of that cut came from Central Washington University. The legislature’s work is done; ours is just beginning.
Three steps must occur to finalize a campus-level budget for CWU.
STEP 1: The legislature sets policy for tuition, financial aid, benefits, and state support.
– Total budget cut: $29.2 million. The reduction brings biennial funding from $93.2 million to $64 million. This funding level assumes the following:
-Three percent cut to CWU’s wage base, or about $3.6 million. The budget does not stipulate how the cut must be absorbed. The cut doesn’t apply to people earning less than $2,500 per month or student employees.
– Reduced pension funding, limiting state support for the CWU Retirement Plan for faculty and exempt employees to a 6% match, or about $1 million per year.
– Tuition-increase limit of 14%. The budget assumed CWU will adopt this rate and subtracted the resulting revenue from our base budget, $20.4 million. This cut remains even if the board adopts a lower tuition rate.
– Lawmakers maintained State Need Grant service levels without diverting tuition from university accounts.
STEP 2: On June 10, CWU trustees will set parameters for implementing budget cuts on campus.
It is not possible to make decisions about personnel, programs, and benefits without this step.
Last winter the BOT set one key budgeting factor by directing the university to enroll at least 9,700 students.
Now the board must weigh the advantages and disadvantages of increasing tuition. An increase of 14% clearly generates more money than a smaller increase, giving the university more options for absorbing the massive budget cut. But the board also must consider how increases affect affordability and the university’s ability to attract students.
Other critical choices involve how to address legislative decisions about wages and benefits.
HB 1795 authorizes the board of trustees to exceed the 14% limit for the next four years; however, new laws require CWU to divert tuition revenue to financial aid when tuition goes up by more than 14% per year.
STEP 3: University leadership—deans, vice presidents, the president, and others—translate legislative and trustee decisions to the campus environment.
It’s been clear that the difficult choices before the legislature would drag budget decisions into June. That’s why university supervisors and leaders have been modeling various budget scenarios for months. What happens if our cut is $8 million? What if it’s $10 million?
Divisions have discussed how to set priorities and how to flourish in a time of unprecedented change. These discussions will inform budget choices when the legislative and trustee parameters are final.
The state provided about $22 million in bonds and cash for work related to buildings. This money may not be spent on operations—wages, retirement, and programs. The funding is to plan for or construct new buildings and to take care of existing buildings. No agency may choose to use the funds otherwise.
CWU fared well in the capital budget, securing funding for four top priorities. Having funding for the initial phases of these projects boosts CWU’s position in the next biennial budget process when we will seek construction funding for Science and Samuelson, and design funding for the Department of Nutrition, Exercise, and Health Sciences.
The following are four construction projects that received some of the capital budget funding for 2011-2013:
– Science II: Design funding for a state-of-the-art facility to house physics, geology, and the Center for Excellence in Science and Mathematics Education. $2 million
– Samuelson: Demolition of the south portion of the building and design of the new facility, Samuelson Communication and Technology Center. $5 million
– Combined Utilities: Funding to replace aged utility infrastructure under Walnut Mall. $4 million
– NEHS: Pre-design funding for a new facility for the Department of Nutrition, Exercise, and Health Sciences. $300,000