The Budget Begins – Welcome to the 2013 Legislative Session

Welcome back to the Briefing Room, the place to come for state legislation without the legi-babble and for budget information that’s not in budget-ese.

As you will, no doubt, recall from our previous conversations, the legislature writes a two-year budget in odd-numbered years. Starting Jan. 14 legislators will have 105 days of “regular” session to write a budget for 2013-2015.

Governor Gregoire started that process officially today with the release of her proposed budgets. She’s required by law to submit a balanced, no-new-taxes budget every December. If you would like to burrow into the budget docuents, you can find them here.

If you prefer the highlights, keep reading:

The  Capital Budget, the budget that pays for the construction of state buildings, was very good for CWU.  Five of our six highest priorities are funded in the governor’s plan: Science Phase II ($65.4 million), Combined Utilities ($8 million), Nutrition Science ($3.96 million), Peterson Hall ($4.9), and Brooks Library Learning Commons ($4.9 million). The budget proposes another $9.5 million for work to preserve state facilities.  The total is nearly $97 million.

It is, by far, the best, early budget results ever. Every budget counts–and this one will be followed, at least, by something from the house andSeasnte, and probably from the next governor, Jay Inslee. Every budget derives something from the one that comes before.  Our goal is to be in each and everyone budget at as close to our target as possible.

The Operating Budget includes no cuts to higher education and sets 0% as the preferred rate of tuition increase. Institutions may raise tuition, but must set aside 5 percent of revenue for tuition waivers.

As you may recall last year the legislature voted for a temporary wages reduction of 3 percent and our Board of Trustees voted to absorb that cut, rather than require the wage reduction.  The governor’s budget restores the three percent and suggests that universities use it to fund collective bargaining agreements–which Gregoire has reviewed, declared “feasible”–but not funded.

Another interesting feature of the budget proposal is $11 million set aside for “high-demand” programs, probably STEM porgrams. Universities typically submit proposals for this funding, like an RFP process. CWU has done very well in high-demand  processes in the past and landed several millions in funding for programs as diverse as the BS Construction Management and the BS  Interdisciplinary Studies – Social Sciences.

 

Coming up next: the CWU legislative team, budget basics, and some of the many reasons to plan on a special legislative session or two next spring.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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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