Office of Planning and Budgeting

September Revenue Forecast Anticipates Continued Moderate Growth

Posted under Revenue Forecast, UW Budget by Jed Bradley 

Yesterday, the Economic and Revenue Forecast Council (ERFC) released its September revenue forecast, which increased projected General Fund-State (GF-S) collections by $334 million for the current 2015-17 biennium and by $125 million for the upcoming 2017-19 biennium. As a reminder, there will be one more revenue forecast in November before Governor Inslee releases his proposed 2017-19 biennial budget in anticipation of the 2017 legislative session.

Here is a quick summary of the total projected GF-S revenue for each biennium:

  • $37.765 billion for the 2015-17 biennium, 12.2 percent more than 2013-15
  • $40.377 billion for the 2017-19 biennium, 6.9 percent more than 2015-17
  • $43.630 billion for the 2019-21 biennium, 8.1 percent more than 2017-19

Behind the numbers:

  • Revenue collections from June to September were $225 million higher than forecasted in June, but over half of that increase was attributed to several large (and one-time) audit-related payments of past-due taxes.
  • This forecast noted slightly stronger personal income and employment compared to the June forecast.
  • Strong retail sales, housing construction, and real estate excise tax (REET) collections continue to create positive revenue trends.
  • Risks to the revenue forecast include weak labor productivity and slow economic growth (both in the U.S. and globally).

Any excess revenue collected in the 2015-17 biennium will contribute to reserves (est. $1.8 Billion) that will be available to spend in the 2017-19 biennium, however, the state continues to face significant budgetary challenges in complying with the State Supreme Court’s orders to fully fund K-12 education.

Stay tuned to the OPBlog for updates on revenue forecasts and the upcoming 2017 legislative session.

UW’s 2017-19 State Operating Budget Request

Posted under OPB News and Announcements, State Legislature by Becka Johnson Poppe 

On September 15, 2016, OPB submitted the UW’s 2017-19 state operating budget request to the Governor’s Office of Financial Management. The UW is mindful of the continuing budget challenges facing the state of Washington and, thus, has limited its budget requests to the 11 most essential and strategic state investments for the 2017-19 biennium. These, along with a variety of mandatory reports and forms that make up a biennial state budget submission, are available on our website at the following location:  2017-19 Operating Budget Request

Here is a brief summary of our requests:

Maintenance Level

  1. Maintenance & Operations: For the Intellectual House, Burke Museum, Computer Science & Engineering expansion and UW Tacoma Urban Solutions facilities.
  2. WWAMI Spokane Continuation: To continue the recent increase of 20 UW medical students in Spokane to years three and four of their education program. The existing biennial budget funds these students for years one and two of the program.
  3. Marijuana Research: For additional marijuana research funding that was authorized in legislation during the 2015-17 biennium.
  4. Occupational Health Internship Management: For one full‐time staff member to help meet accreditation needs in the Dept. of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences.

Performance Level

  1. Competitive Compensation and Retention: For 4 percent salary and benefit increases in FY18 and FY19 for faculty and professional staff. Separate decision packages will be submitted for employees covered under collective bargaining agreements.
  2. Maintenance & Operations: For the Nano Engineering & Science Building and the Life Sciences Building.
  3. WWAMI Spokane Expansion: To expand the UW’s medical student education program in Spokane by an additional 20 students per cohort, starting in FY 2018.
  4. Tri-Campus Student Success Initiative: To expand programs at all three campuses that improve access, retention, graduation and career preparation, with an emphasis on first generation, low-income, underrepresented minority and transfer students—especially those in STEM fields.
  5. RIDE Expansion Bridge: To permit RIDE students to spend their second year of dental education in Spokane, rather than returning to Seattle. This program is in partnership with Eastern Washington University.
  6. High-Demand Enrollments: To expand instructional capacity and enrollment at all three campuses in high-demand fields, such as engineering, computer science, ocean engineering and cyber operations.
  7. Regenerative Medicine Institute: To support the Institute’s scientific cores, add new faculty, provide pilot grants to leverage federal research grants, support student research training and provide translational bridge awards to convert research breakthroughs into products with commercial potential.
  • Additional Attachment: A request for a transportation budget appropriation for a Washington State Research Vessel to be operated by the UW and used by local, state, federal and tribal agencies.

Please contact Jed Bradley or Becka Johnson Poppe if you have questions.

New OPB Brief on Activity Based Budgeting (ABB) Trends

Posted under Institutional Research, UW Budget by Jed Bradley 

A new brief from the Office of Planning & Budgeting provides an overview of Activity Based Budgeting (ABB) distribution principles and trends at the UW in Seattle. This brief updates last year’s overview of ABB trends, adding the most recent year’s data. It compares the ABB budgets of Seattle academic units to those of Seattle administrative units over the last six years (FY12-FY17).

Introducing Peer Finance Dashboards!

Posted under Higher Ed Research, Institutional Research by Jed Bradley 

OPB’s Institutional Analysis team and UW-IT’s Enterprise Information, Integration & Analytics unit announce seven new peer finance dashboards, available now in UW Profiles. These new dashboards join four existing peer dashboards. Peer dashboards use data publicly available through the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) to allow users to compare the UW to peer institutions around the country on a range of student- and finance-focused measures.

With the new finance dashboards, users can compare revenues, expenses, and endowment values at the UW and peer institutions. They can also explore the relative importance of different revenue sources and expense categories across institutions. The expenses story dashboard provides a step-by-step look at the expenses that directly or indirectly support universities’ research and instruction missions.

More information about each of the new peer finance dashboards is available through the online documentation. Please feel free to send any questions or comments to

Update: Supreme Court Decision on Fisher v. University of Texas

Posted under Higher Ed News, Higher Ed Policy by Jed Bradley 

On Thursday, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld University of Texas at Austin’s race-conscious admissions policy in its second consideration of a Fisher v. University of Texas appeal. As a reminder, the case stemmed from a lawsuit by Abigail Fisher, a white applicant to UT Austin who claimed she was unfairly rejected due to the university’s affirmative action admissions program. Since our last update, when the Supreme Court ordered the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit to reconsider the case, the appellate court affirmed their decision in favor of UT, and Fisher again appealed that court’s decision to the Supreme Court. For additional background on this case, please see our previous two posts, found here and here.

The case was decided by an unusual 4-3 margin due to Justice Kagan’s recusal and the recent death of Justice Scalia. According to the NY Times, Justice Kennedy, who had never before voted to uphold an affirmative action plan, wrote for the majority that “…it remains an enduring challenge to our nation’s education system to reconcile the pursuit of diversity with the constitutional promise of equal treatment and dignity.”

This decision marks the end of the Fisher case, but the debate over affirmative action in higher education carries on.

Stay tuned to the OPBlog for updates.

June Revenue Forecast Increases Projections for the 2015-17 and 2017-19 Biennia

Posted under Revenue Forecast, UW Budget by Jed Bradley 

Last week, the Economic and Revenue Forecast Council (ERFC) released its June revenue forecast, which increased projected General Fund-State (GF-S) collections by $294 million for the current 2015-17 biennium and by $126 million for the upcoming 2017-19 biennium. This is an improvement over the February forecast, which had predicted slower revenue growth in both biennia (see our blog post here). As a reminder, there will be at least three more revenue forecasts between now and when the legislature sets the 2017-19 budget.

Here is a quick summary of the total projected GF-S revenue for each biennia:

  • $37.431 billion for the 2015-17 biennium, 11.2 percent more than 2013-15.
  • $40.252 billion for the 2017-19 biennium, 7.5 percent more than 2015-17.
  • $43.575 billion for the 2019-21 biennium, 8.3 percent more than 2017-19.

Behind the numbers:

  • The forecast attributed the increase to strong sales of large commercial properties and rising home prices.
  • Other positives included growth in housing permits and increases in inflation, which typically result in greater retail sales, business taxes, and property taxes.
  • Slight decreases in U.S. and Washington state personal income forecasts continue to have a negative effect on the revenue forecast.

According to a press release from the Governor’s Office of Financial Management, “With the latest forecast, the state is now projected to have nearly $1.5 billion in total reserves at the end of the current biennium and more than $1.4 billion at the end of the 2017–19 biennium. Those reserve figures, however, do not take into account the multibillion obligation the state faces in the next biennium to meet its constitutional obligation to fully fund basic education.”

As a result, state agencies, including the UW, have received instructions to severely limit requests for new programs or policy initiatives in their requests for state funding in the 2017-19 biennium.

Stay tuned to the OPBlog for updates on revenue forecasts.

2016-17 Cost of Attendance for First-Year UW Undergrads

Posted under OPB News and Announcements, Uncategorized by Becka Johnson Poppe 

The estimated annual cost of attendance for first-year UW undergraduates is now available for the 2016-17 academic year.  Cost of attendance shows estimated expenses by campus for:

  • Tuition
  • Student fees
  • Room & board
  • Books, personal, & transportation

Cost of attendance (COA) is defined by the Higher Education Act.  It is a statutory term that typically refers to the estimated cost for a full-time student to attend an institution of higher education for a standard nine-month academic year.

After accounting for grant and scholarship aid, UW students (particularly resident undergraduates) often pay far less than the estimated COA.  In 2014-15 (the most recent year for which net price data is available), the published price for resident undergraduates at Seattle was $27,112, whereas the net price for first-time, resident undergraduates at Seattle was $9,744.

We will annually update the COA information on our website.

OPB Briefs: Higher Education Trends

Posted under Higher Ed News, Higher Ed Policy, OPB News and Announcements by Andrew Orlebeke 

OPB has posted a report on higher education trends from the past year  to the Briefs tab of our website.

Based on The Chronicle of Higher Education’s Trends Report, the brief summarizes the ten trends outlined by The Chronicle and highlights relevant examples from Washington state. The brief also outlines a selection of additional higher education trends which we have observed.

OPB Briefs: 2016 Bill Summary and 2016 Fiscal Note Summary Now Available

Posted under OPB News and Announcements, State Legislature by Andrew Orlebeke 

OPB has posted two summaries concerning the 2016 legislative session to the Briefs tab of our website:

The 2016 Bill Summary lists the bills OPB tracked during session that were passed by the legislature. Links to veto messages are provided for bills that were vetoed or partially vetoed by the Governor. Of the nearly 600 bills that OPB tracked in the 2016 legislative session, 54 passed into law.

The 2016 Fiscal Note Summary lists the fiscal notes—evaluations of the fiscal impact of a bill proposal—that OPB completed on behalf of the UW (with the help of subject matter experts across the University) during the 2016 session. All fiscal notes are requested by the Office of Financial Management (OFM) in Olympia to guide legislative decision-making. This session, OPB completed 63 fiscal notes.

New Report Examines Challenges Facing Public Research Universities in 21st Century

Posted under Higher Ed News, Higher Ed Policy by Andrew Orlebeke 

The Lincoln Project, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences’ study of public research universities (PRUs), has recently come out with its fifth and final report, which examines the challenges facing PRUs and recommends strategies for addressing them. The recommendations are threefold:

  1. Address Financial Challenges:

The sharp reduction in state funding for PRUs—down 30 percent since the year 2000—has been particularly harmful because it has forced public universities to raise tuition. This directly affects access for low-income students—one of the key responsibilities of public higher education. For this reason, the authors highlight financial aid for low-income, in-state undergraduate students as the most important program that institutions can provide. The UW’s Husky Promise program, which provides free tuition to resident undergraduates with financial need, is an example of this type of financial aid.

To cope with diminished state funding, the report also recommends:

  • Regional alliances with other PRUs, allowing the schools to combine programs;
  • Focusing fundraising on unrestricted donations, allowing universities to put the money towards core educational programs;
  • State-led creation of PRU long-term funding plans, allowing universities to more securely plan for their future; and
  • Advocating for additional federal research support.
  1. Form Public-Private Partnerships:

In the authors’ view, there is a natural alliance between PRUs and businesses. PRUs are critical to the business community: they educate workers and provide research upon which businesses and corporations build their enterprises. Universities also rely on businesses for funding assistance and for employment opportunities for their graduates. The report recommends that businesses provide research funds, well-paid internships, scholarships, and other support mechanisms for universities and their students. Universities, in turn, should provide easier access to their research and actively work towards partnering with businesses. The UW has a variety of public-private partnerships, including its Global Innovation Exchange (GIX), a partnership with Microsoft and Tsinghua University in Beijing.

  1. Serve Students:
  • Simplify financial aid: Filling out a FAFSA is a complicated process which can impede access to higher education. Simplifying the loan application procedure would help ensure that a larger proportion of students who are interested in higher education get access to the funds they need to pursue their goals.
  • Track student performance: Thanks to improved data analysis tools, universities have an enhanced ability to help students graduate. The report highlights Georgia State University (GSU) as a particularly successful example. GSU uses an algorithm to pinpoint students at risk of failing or dropping out, enabling the university’s advising services to intervene on a one-to-one basis. According to the report, these interventions have increased graduation rates by 20 percent, reduced time to graduation, and eliminated graduation rate differences between racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups.
  • Improve transfer pathways: The report recommends that four-year institutions work with community colleges to simplify the transfer procedure. Doing so can make higher education more affordable and accessible and can help transfer students graduate with a four-year degree on time and with as little debt as possible.

Two overarching themes of the Lincoln Project’s report are partnerships and accessibility. Public universities will need both in order to continue fulfilling their dual missions of conducting top-level research and providing high-quality, affordable higher education.

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