A message from CWU President James L. Gaudino
Posted: Nov. 21, 2011
Governor Gregoire today released her plan to close a $2-billion gap in the state operating budget. The plan will go to the state legislature during a special session that convenes on November 28. I wanted to let you know that Central Washington University is reasonably well positioned to deal with the cuts that may result from this proposal.
First, we have maintained high enrollment–the key to our growth and reinvestment as state support dwindles. Tuition revenue represents about 62 percent of the cost of education while state support is down to just 38 percent. As long as we maintain robust enrollment–about 9,800 full-time equivalent students (FTES)–we can increase the quality of education and invest in programs and people in the next four years.
Second, the support and wise planning of our trustees means we have anticipated the cuts laid out today and have money in a rainy day fund to address the cuts.
So what’s actually in the governor’s proposal? There are two parts.
1. Cuts to baccalaureate institutions of about 17 percent, or a little more than $160 million. The governor also is proposing to suspend funding for the State Work Study program, for a reduction of about $8 million. Of course, this is part of a total reduction in state spending of $2 billion.
2. A temporary, half-cent increase in the state sales tax. The increase, the first since 1983, would forestall the worst of the budget cuts needed to bridge the budget gap. The increase would be in place for three years if it is approved first by the legislature and, second, by voters in March. The governor said the increase would generate revenue to continue to provide home care for developmentally disabled and senior citizens; to prevent having to release inmates from prison early; and to forestall cuts to K-12 and higher education.
The next step for this proposal is consideration by the legislature. We should expect the legislature to vigorously debate every aspect of this proposal, which cannot move forward without the approval of the House and the Senate.
I hope this helps outline the proposal the governor presented today. We are in good shape and, with your support and the leadership of our trustees, I am confident of our success in spite of the fiscal difficulties before us.