Brace Yourself

The legislature allegedly have come to agreement on worker’s compensation policy and are prepared to move on the biennial operating budget. Tuesday morning each caucus will receive a briefing on what’s in the budget compromise. After that the bill will be exposed to what passes for sunshine in Olympia so we can all get a good look at the budget.

Before special session began, higher ed was bracing for a $500 million cut–about $30 million of which CWU is expecting to absorb. The budget will answer other questions fundamental to our day-to-day lives. These include details on what form the pay cut will take–how much and in what way it must be implemented.

We’ll also find out what the base tuition-increase level is. That’s the rate the legislature assumed when they cut our budget. When you hear that higher ed was “only” cut 7 or 8 percent, that’s the NET cut.

Legislative math: Remove $30 million from CWU’s budget. Add back $20 million (give or take a million) in new tuition. The cut is “only” $10 million.

Mystery cuts: We’ll have to read very carefully and then ask the budget staff to peer into the Dark Places of the state budget system: the Agency Financial Reporting System (AFRS) or the Cost Allocation System (CAS) or the Budget Development System (BDS). These help us understand changes to benefits, the dreaded fund shifts, and other unpleasant surprises.

The future of the construction budget was murky late today. With the House Capital Budget chair not wanting to compromise on state debt-limit policy, the Senate appeared to be saying, “Fine! We just won’t HAVE a capital budget.” That’s possible, but I’ll believe it when I see it. The capital budget actually generates jobs and community development that every legislator is aching to bring to his/her district.

I’ll post budget analysis here as soon as I know something worth repeating.

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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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