House releases mixed-news budgets

Today the state House of Representatives unveiled a proposed budget for 2011-2013. The governors proposal, laid out last December, proposed to cut CWUs budget by $25% and to increase tuition by 9% per year. The House budget proposes a $29.5 million cut with two tuition increases of 11.5%.

Whats in the House cut? A big general cut of about $20 million, $2.5 million less for pensions, and a 3% cut in wages (about $3.58 million). The House also sets aside $3.6 million in a performance reserve. CWU could earn back the funds by improving performance in an area designated by the governor (for example improving graduation rates or retention). Another cut, but one not included in these figures, is the assumption that employees will pay 15 percent of the cost of health care instead of 12 percent.

Partially backfilling this cut relies, of course, on tuition. The House assumes students at CWU, EWU, and Evergreen would pay an additional 11.5 percent per year in tuition. The House budget also assumes that HB 1795 will pass. This bill suspends the 11.5 percent limit and allows boards of trustees to increase tuition beyond that for four years.

The House also provides $500,000 for student services and $179,000 for 25 FTE in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math.

Budget writers took on the state’s financial aid landscape, doing away with or suspending just about everything except the State Need Grant. The budget…

· Links the maximum grant to tuition at regional institutions

· Reduced awards for private schools

· Eliminates awards to for-profit schools

· Transfers funding for the Equal Opportunity Grant to SNG.

Ready for some good news? Four of CWUs top construction-budget priorities are in the House version of the capital budget. The math is a little weird; funds are split between the two fiscal years rather than being spent over the biennium. And some of the assumptions about what the total cost of the project will be over the next several years are off. Still, in a year when some predicted no capital budget at all, it is more than a relief to see the following in the House capital budget:

Fiscal Year 2012

· Combined Utilities: $8 million

Fiscal Year 2013

· Samuelson: $5 million

· Science: $3.5 million design

· NEHS: $300,000 for pre-design

Well be working the numbers on the budget for the rest of the week (or longer). The budget’s next stop will be a vote of the full House where legislators will try to change it before it goes over to the Senate. Look for the Senate budget to come out in the next few days.

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About Linda Schactler

Linda is the former Director of Communications for the Washington State Senate, and former deputy director of the Washington State Higher Education Coordinating Board. From 2000 through 2010 Linda was the proprietor of Schactler Communications, an Olympia-based public affairs business. She holds a master of arts in English literature from Washington University in St. Louis. Linda can be reached at her Ellensburg office schactler@cwu.edu, 509-963-1384, or on her cell phone, 509-607-4103.
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