Office of Planning and Budgeting

When the revenue forecast was released on March 17, House fiscal leadership indicated that their operating budget would be delayed. We hoped to see a budget on March 21st and then on March 29th. Tomorrow is April 1 and your analysts at OPBlog anticipate having neither budget drafts to write about nor fantastic prank ideas to implement.

Some news outlets indicate that we may see the House Ways and Means Operating Budget next week. Meanwhile, Senate Ways and Means chair Ed Murray, D-Seattle, is on record saying that the Senate will not release its budget until the House releases theirs.

We’ll offer full analysis of the budgets as they are released. Stay tuned!

Be sure to check out the latest OPB brief on the use of differential tuition at public universities. The brief primarily focuses on differential tuition by major or class standing, which is now in effect at over 50 percent of all public research institutions in the US.

In 43 years, the world’s population is expected to double.  In developing countries the urban population is expected to double between 2000 and 2030.  The urban land cover will double in 19 years and the built-up area of major cities in the developing world will triple.  At least, this is according to a new report, “Making Room for a Planet of Cities,” that was published by The Lincoln Institute of Land Policy last month.

For the past five years, a team of researchers looked at GIS-based maps, satellite images, and historical maps to create a comprehensive data set to look at five key attributes of urbanism – urban land cover, density as measured by population in relation to built-up areas, centrality (distance from city center), fragmentation (the amount of open space within cities), and compactness. The summary from all of the historical research: “average densities declined as population and wealth grew, not just in the U.S. as part of the familiar pattern of sprawl but worldwide.”

Looking to the future, the research conducted by this report suggests that planners and policy makers should look at growth management within the context of the following: realistic projections of urban land needs, selective protection of open space, generous metropolitan limits, and infrastructure to support mass transportation.

As a planner at the University of Washington, this emphasizes the importance of the University’s location in an urban center.  Assuming that increased urbanization will continue, as suggested in the report, the University District area is on track for increased density.  This makes the report timely in its reinforcement of the growing importance of planning for the future using realistic projections, protection of open space, and an emphasis on infrastructure prior to significant urban growth.

CUPA-HR salary survey data, analyzed by Inside Higher Education, shows that, similar to faculty members, median pay for senior and mid-level administrators at public institutions of higher education was flat in 2010.

At private institutions, members of all three categories showed modest gains of between 1 and 2 percent, contributing to a growing gap between pay at public and private institutions.

The SHEEO State Higher Education Finance report for FY 2010 was released last week. Unsurprisingly, it confirms that the same general pattern in Washington of deep state cuts to higher education funding coupled with steep tuition increases is being replicated in states across the US.

Report Highlights: National Trends

Nationally, on average, state support for public high education per full-time-equivalent (FTE) student declined by about 7 percent between 2009 and 2010, and, at $6,454 per student, is at its lowest level in 25 years. The reports notes that average increases in net tuition revenue of 3.4 percent per student partially offset these budget cuts.

These cuts comes at a time when enrollment continues to grow partly due to more citizens seeking out higher education during the economic crisis. Nationally, enrollment grew by 15 percent between 2005 and 2010. Even when state and federal and increased tuition support manage to stay whole or increase, the report notes that increasing enrollments continue to erode per student funding levels over time.

The report highlights the importance that state support continues to play in education related spending by public institutions even as tuition revenue rises. They acknowledge that this importance is sometimes obscured by the complex finances of large institutions that have many other (non-fungible) funding sources.

Ultimately, SHEEO purports that public and policymaker values are consistent with continued public support for higher education, and they are hopeful that investment will rise again once state budgets stabilize and improve.

Report Highlights: Washington State

SHEEO presents the following averages for Washington State higher education for the 2005-2010 period:

  • 12th in increased enrollment in public higher education (19.2%).
  • 30th in appropriations per FTE.
  • 40th in percent of net tuition revenue as percent of total education revenue.
  • 40th in total educational revenue per FTE.

These numbers are a testament to the comparatively low tuition rates enjoyed by WA residents combined with lower than average state appropriations.

Read the full report for more data, analysis, and methodological details.

You might notice links for a new website, UW Budget Watch, popping up on UW homepages (including OPB and right here on the blog).

OPB worked with Web Communications staff to develop one website that would consolidate many sources of information relating to the state budget and how it has and is expected to continue affecting the University. You will find links to blogs (the absolute best way to get the most up to the date and timely notices) and other UW and non-UW websites, as well as many educational documents, messages about the budget from UW leadership, videos about the current funding situation, and information about related UW initiatives.

We have found sites such as this very helpful in keeping up to date with our peer institutions, and we hope that our page will be as useful for anyone interested in keeping up on the latest developments.

So, visit the page often and we will work hard to keep it updated!

State Economic Forecast Council Director Dr. Arun Raha released the March revenue forecast today. This forecast serves as the revenue basis for the Legislature’s general fund budget in the 2011-13 biennium (FY12 and FY13).

2009-11 Biennium (FY10 & FY11)

While many economic indicators used in his analysis show tentative growth in 2011, revenue collections through March 10, 2011 were $85 million below expectations and growth through the next quarter will continue to lag expectations, contributing to an additional $80 million deficit in the 2009-11 biennium. Legislative leadership confirmed that an additional (fourth) supplemental budget will be needed to reconcile the new FY11 shortfall. The timing of that budget is unknown.

2011-13 (FY12 & FY13)

Weaker growth in several key sectors over the last three months prompted Dr. Raha to increase the projected deficit for the 2011-13 biennium by $698 million.  The Legislature will use a $31.9 billion revenue base for the General Fund State. For comparison, the Governor’s December budget was based on a $32.1 billion general fund state budget.  

While we anticipate the House will release their operating budget proposal next week, House leadership did not commit to a date.

The March forecast includes new data about the downside risks to our economy including the earthquake, tsunami, and risk of nuclear meltdown in Japan. Further, Dr. Raha states that the most significant threat to economic growth is the energy market.  He fears escalating gas prices will continue to erode consumer confidence, regardless of job growth. These downside risk factors overwhelm any upside risks (employment growth, consumer confidence, and commodity prices) by 10 percent.

Please check this blog regularly for state budget updates as they become available.

Were you surprised to learn in the Chronicle of Higher Education this week that, in 2008, the UW received over $19,500 in state appropriations per student, the second highest rate in the country? Well, so were we!

Office of Planning Budgeting staff worked with the Chronicle to clarify that they were not reporting state appropriations per student, but what the Delta Cost Project calls the overall educational ‘subsidy’ enjoyed by students, which includes state appropriations but also other revenues such as gifts and endowment income.

The Chronicle agreed to revise the text of their chart to match the measure they were actually reporting, and they also wrote up an accompanying article to explain why the revision was important, using the UW as an example. Please read our brief for more detail and links to the revised publications.

We don’t think the overall ‘subsidy’ figure that DELTA produces by looking at IPEDS finance survey data is a very useful one when comparing institutions on education related funding per student, nor do we think that 2008 funding levels tell us much about where public flagship institutions are now, but it is very important that the Chronicle narrative now matches the data and the chart is no longer misleading.

US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan joined Governor Chris Gregoire and legislative leadership today for an education roundtable. Duncan congratulated state lawmakers on discussing the issue of education reform, even through tough budget times. He further drew attention to the grave problems troubling education in the United States—a 25% national dropout rate, poor STEM education, the large number of students taking remedial courses, and gaping budget gaps, which challenge the adequate funding of education.

Of particular interest, Duncan commented on the current system of education governance in Washington, claiming: “Washington has eight different agencies with different strategic plans working in Washington and it’s very difficult for me to understand how having different agencies handling education…will transform education.”

Governor Gregoire has bills in both chambers to consolidate education governance into one Department of Education headed by the Governor. The plan would also consolidate many existing state education agencies into four primary education divisions: Early Years Division, K-12 Division, Community College and Technical Education Division, and the University Programs Division. All units would report to a new Department of Education Secretary.

Secretary Duncan reiterated President Obama’s commitment to investing in education despite the economic downturn, and gave examples of strategic programs and innovations the administration is working towards:

-Investing in Early Learning programs like Head Start, which studies have shown to improve achievement especially for disadvantaged students who do not have many educational opportunities at home

-Continuing the Race to the Top program which rewards schools for outstanding innovation and improvement in education (if approved by Congress)

Lastly, Governor Gregoire distributed a document describing how much it costs taxpayers when students “fall through the cracks” of the education system– by dropping out, taking remedial courses, or repeating grades–a number her advisers estimate at around $ 100 million a year. Though the problems facing education in Washington state and in the nation are indeed grave, it was encouraging to see lawmakers pause during a critical week to discuss education. As Secretary Duncan asserted, “our children cannot wait for the economy to bounce back”—education must remain a priority, despite the dire budget situation.

OPB published a new brief yesterday discussing expectations for the upcoming Washington State revenue and caseload/entitlement forecasts, and how both are likely to affect UW state funding levels.

**EDITED TO ADD: Note that after we released this information, the new caseload forecast was released and lowered the expected growth of caseloads for K-12, Medicaid, and Corrections. In particular, the anticipated impacts of federal healthcare reform lowered the predicted caseload for state-supported medical programs by $117 million in the long-term and $70 million in the short-term.**

Nationally, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) updated their analysis of state budget shortfalls this week. They summarize the challenges faced by states via their blog:

  • For fiscal year 2012, one of the most difficult budget years on record. Some 44 states are projecting shortfalls totaling $112 billion for the year, which begins July 1 in most states. (See chart below.)  This figure is somewhat lower than in our previous version of this analysis, largely because of actions that Illinois took in its last legislative session that reduced the size of its 2012 shortfall.
  • The loss of emergency federal assistance. Assistance through the 2009 Recovery Act and the August 2010 jobs bill has been a huge help to states, allowing them to balance their budgets with smaller budget cuts and tax increases than they would otherwise need to make.  But that aid will largely be gone by the end of fiscal year 2011.
  • A long road to recovery. Already, 26 states are projecting shortfalls totaling $75 billion for fiscal year 2013, which begins in 16 months.  This number will likely grow once all states have prepared estimates.

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