State budget holds painful cuts for Western
Western Washington University is preparing for significant, painful cuts in the 2009-2011 operating budget, which is scheduled to make its way through the state Legislature this spring.
The final budget won’t be known for months, but the Governor’s proposed spending plan released last month included a 5-percent net reduction in the university’s operating revenue.
The cuts are an attempt to fill a state revenue shortfall totaling more than $5 billion.Such a proposed reduction “is larger, significantly larger, than any this university has experienced in recent decades,” President Bruce Shepard wrote recently.
“Yet, the governor has, in my view, acted with courage and vision under very difficult circumstances in making politically hard choices to spread the pain,” Shepard wrote. “She recognizes that higher education is part of the solution and not part of the problem, and her budget reflects that recognition.”
The governor’s proposal would:
- Raise tuition by up to 7 percent, the maximum allowed under state law without legislative approval. That amounts to about $100 more per quarter for full-time resident students.
- Reduce state support for the operating budget by 14 percent.
- Provide no increases in compensation.
The proposed cuts go deeper than the reductions in WWU’s budget this fiscal year. Since late summer, Western officials have trimmed $3.3 million, or about 2.6 percent, from this year’s operating budget in response to state revenue shortfalls.
The university community has already offered more than 170 cost-cutting suggestions. Colleges and other areas will consider all cuts in an open budget hearing process.
In the meantime, Shepard said, university officials – along with faculty, students, staff, union leadership and supporters of higher education around the state – will continue to urge the state Legislature to protect universities from further cuts.
“That unity will be important as we seek to protect the investment Washington has made, to this point, in its brighter futures,” Shepard wrote.