Plans Regarding "Furlough" Legislation

June 2, 2010

Colleagues:

We have now received the much awaited guidance from the Office of Financial Management (OFM) on how we are to implement ESSB 6503, a law that, more loosely, people refer to as “the furlough bill.” That memorandum from OFM is available online.

We were provided four working days to digest the guidance, form plans, and report back to OFM. We have done so in three and the Western Plan, as submitted today to OFM, can be found online.

The plan draws upon what you provided us during a period of preliminary discussion. That feedback is summarized in the response to OFM. Please do review that document.

Fully informed campus consideration is critical to our shared responsibility for effective decision making. Most explicitly, the plan we submitted to OFM provides for an additional period of campus consultation through June 8th.

We are required to come up with one-time savings of $1,172,000 during 2010-11. The plan submitted to OFM proposes the following:

  1. Savings of $436,000 from previous personnel adjustments. These are the savings associated with the proposal from our faculty union colleagues to forgo contractually agreed to merit raises for two years in order to provide for more sections for students and additional adjunct employment. ESSB 6503 allows us to count such savings. However, the actual dollars were spent as our agreement with the union required. So, the actual dollars will come from our base-budgeted contingency reserve. This is fiscally acceptable as this is a one-time need and that is what contingency reserves are for.
  2. Savings of $496,000 in reductions in institutional accounts. You saw these savings in the proposed 2010-11 operating budget. In order to make those base budget reductions as thoughtful as possible, we have long and explicitly planned and budgeted to cover base budget reductions through 2010-11 using one-time funds. The cuts to the base become effective leaving 2010-11. If we make the cuts to institutional accounts sooner (effective beginning 2010-11), then there are one-time savings we can use toward meeting the obligations of ESSB 6503.
  3. Selective Reductions in FTE. During the period of preliminary consultation, we consistently heard that there may be opportunities for savings through voluntary reductions in FTE. Such possibilities will be explored where real net savings would result and where the needs of departments would not be compromised. We are projecting possible one-time savings of $123,000. Those three components come within $117,000 of the target. That amount, $117,000, is about equal to projected savings from closing the university for one day between terms. And, that option is included, as one possibility, in the plan submitted to OFM. More to the point, it is a possibility for the campus to consider.

The alternative to that option is to take the $117,000 from open positions. OFM does not allow us to use positions held open because of the salary freeze. So, only positions directly involved in instruction may be counted. Here, we have plenty to count; the details are in the 2010-11 budget proposal previously shared with you. In implementing this alternative and because this is a one-time budget obligation, we would back fill any fund recaptured from open lines. The base-budgeted contingency reserve would again be used (again a fiscally acceptable use of the contingency fund as these are one-time funding needs). Those savings from positions already planned to be held open had been intended to be used to help protect students" time to degree and, by the backfill, those protections remain in place. So, this option is NOT in addition to or on top of the provisions of the 2010-11 budget proposal; there would be no additional effects upon college and departmental budgets.

Shutting down the university would differentially affect employees. Some would have pay cuts, some must use leave, and some would have neither consequence. Having listened during the period of preliminary consultation, the most frequent and most widely shared advice we heard concerned this consequence and its particularly pernicious effect upon everybody"s morale, including those least affected. Keeping most tenure track positions open also is pernicious if extended for any length of time, yet that is an option we have already discussed and settled upon as a short-term strategy. So, I am recommending to you that we go with that latter option rather than shutting down the university for a day.

All the above is “draft.” Any of it may be changed should you have better ideas. We do need to hear from you by June 8th. Please do work through the leadership of your employee group, governance group, or union. The budget forum pages are also available to raise questions and seek clarifications.

Sincerely,

Bruce

Page Updated 11.27.2013