Trustees’ work session examines budget detail, stakes

Late this afternoon the Board of Trustees met for a work session on the details surrounding the budget handed them by the state legislature. You know the facts and by now must be sick of hearing them. I know I am:

  • two 14% tuition increases
  • a 3% wage cut
  • a CWU Retirement Fund cut
  • increases in health care costs to employees.
The administration has proposed the board stick with the tuition increases assumed in the budget, even though trustees could opt for a higher rate, thanks to the passage of HB 1795.
Cabinet also recommended that the university hold all employees harmless from the wage cut.  Why should CWU employees not take a cut imposed on other state employees, one trustee wanted to know? Fair question.
The answer is that our employment landscape is so complicated that it prevents the university from imposing a 3% cut across-the-board.
For example, if you negotiated a 4-year contract before the recession hit, you might well be protected from any cut. If you are a member of a union that negotiated a 3% contract last December, you are not as lucky. The result is you could take a wage cut and find yourself sitting next to someone who did not. That’s not good business–and it’s just not really fair.
Trustees wanted to know how a big tuition increase would position the university to compete with other institutions. Answer: WWU, WSU, and UW will increase tuition 16%. TESC and EWU will be closer to 11.5%
Trustees also were concerned with affordability for students. Good news: the budget requires universities to increase the amount of tuition set aside for aid from 3.5% of tuition revenue to 5%. That’s on top of the approximately $8 million in tuition waivers CWU already provides. Institutions that choose to increase tuition beyond the rate the legislature set (14% for us) have to set aside even more money for aid.
The trustees will sleep on this information (and a lot more, which you can see on line) and then they’ll have to make up their minds in the morning. Watch it on-line or read about it on the home page and here.


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, 509-963-1384, or on her cell phone, 509-607-4103.
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