Office of Planning and Budgeting

In FY09, the UW’s state funding appropriation was $401.7 million and while the upcoming fiscal year’s (FY13) state funding level could be $214.4 million, the Senate budget released this morning would not cut current levels further. For the first time in several years, the UW may experience a flat budget, without new reductions. While funding levels are dramatically lower than they were before the Great Recession, they may not be reduced further.

Like the House budget, finalized by House Ways & Means Saturday, February 25, the Senate budget reduces state expenditures, authorizes fund transfers, and captures fund savings to deal with the current 2011-13 biennium shortfall of $1.05 billion. Reductions are made to important state services, including mental health, foster care support and community supervision of convicted criminals. However, these cuts, in part, allow the Senate to avoid cutting higher education and K12 further in the remainder of the current biennium (FY12 and FY13).

The Senate budget, as introduced, requires that the UW devote $3.8 million of its current appropriation level to converting 425 existing FTEs to student FTEs studying engineering and appropriates new money for the Center for Aerospace Innovation and Technology.

The Senate capital budget was also released today. Under the Senate proposal, the entire construction phase ($62.6 million) of Bothell Phase 3 would be funded, but from a variety of fund sources, with almost $20 million of the total cost supported through state construction bonds. This compares favorably to the House budget, which authorized the UW to bond the entire construction cost through its own building account resources.

While the Legislature is scheduled to adjourn sine die next Thursday, March 8, each chamber has a lot of work ahead before a compromise budget can be reached.

A full briefing on the Senate budget, comparing it to the House budget, is available here. Please let us know if you have questions.

Data released by the Census Bureau yesterday shows that 30 percent of Americans aged 25 and over held a Bachelor’s degree or more in 2011, an unprecedented level of higher education attainment. The percentage of Bachelor’s degree holders has increased steadily from less than 25 percent in 1998. While this is encouraging news, some warn that three problems remain: racial and gender inequality, highly differentiated earnings based on choice of major, and persistently low attainment levels in comparison to the rest of the world.

Though all racial and ethnic minorities have increased their share of Bachelor’s degrees earned, the level of educational attainment is highly stratified by race. 50 percent of Asian Americans, 34 percent of white people 20 percent of African Americans and 14 percent of Hispanic Americans 25 years and older held Bachelor’s degrees in 2011. Hispanic Americans have, however, increased their degree attainment by 80 percent since 2001. While women have overtaken men in the number of Bachelor’s degrees earned, they still lag behind in the number of doctorate degrees attained: 1.9 million for men versus 1.2 million for women. Encouragingly, the number of women attaining doctorate degrees has increased by 90 percent over the last ten years.

Some caution that majors matter: some studies show that a worker with an associate’s degree in engineering will make an average of $4,257 per month while workers with bachelor’s degrees in the liberal arts or education will make $4,000 and $3,417, respectively. They argue that higher amounts of bachelor’s degrees will not be very useful unless they translate into higher earnings for workers in the long run.

Finally, despite an increase in higher education attainment, the United States is nowhere close to being the world leader in educational achievement: Canada, Japan and South Korea occupy those positions.  According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development the US is now ranked 16th internationally in terms of degrees earned, down from 12th in 2009.

Despite an encouraging increase in educational attainment in 2011, there is still more work to be done to ensure America’s higher education system reaches more students. To read more about the Census Bureau’s findings, check out Inside Higher Ed, The Washington Post, the Census Bureau’s press release or the original data.

House Ways & Means Chair Ross Hunter released the House supplemental budget proposal today, reducing state expenditures, making fund transfers, delaying payments, and capturing fund savings to deal with the current 2011-13 biennium shortfall of $1.05 billion. The Governor released her budget November 21, 2011, before the February 2012 caseload and revenue forecast improved the outlook for tax collections and caseload requirements.

If this budget ultimately passes, each of the state’s six baccalaureate institutions would reconcile a 2 to 3.5 percent state funding cut over two fiscal years, which compares favorably to the Governor’s budget, which would have cut each of the public baccalaureate universities by 16 to 17 percent. Note that theUW reduction number listed below does not include an offsetting proviso for enrollment support in the College of Engineering ($3.8 million). Please review our budget brief for more information.

 

Senate Ways & Means Chair Ed Murray will release his budget next and each chamber will work toward a conference (compromise) budget. Please check back regularly for budget updates and to review capital budget proposals as they are released.

While we anticipate operating budget proposals from House and Senate Ways & Means Chairs next week, the House Republican caucus released its version of an operating budget today. Note that this proposal is not binding; it is a list of House Republican funding priorities. These priorities focus on funding K12 education, including funding for all-day kindergarten, 180-day school year, levy equalization, and reform measures. Additionally, the House Republican proposal includes increases to public safety funding and does not include a proposed early release program for Washington prisoners.

House Republicans would make a number of changes to higher education institutions that were not included in the Governor’s budget, released in November. The proposal would reduce funding for “administrative costs” by .5 percent at public baccalaureates and remedial education at the community and technical colleges. While no definition of “administrative costs” is provided, budget notes declare that “administrative activities are reduced. Reductions shall be implemented in a manner that minimizes impact on student services.” The UW would need to cut $6.6 million of administrative activities in FY13 if this policy is included in the final budget. Additionally, this proposal temporarily lays off all state employees, including employees at the state’s higher education institutions, for 24 days in FY13. Temporary layoffs would not extend to some critical personnel.

This proposal makes changes to the State Need Grant (SNG) program as well. Students at public baccalaureate institutions would be limited to 12 quarters (or 6 quarters for students at community and technical colleges) of grant funding. Interestingly, this proposal would eliminate SNG funding for students attending private, for profit institutions.

Like the Governor’s budget, the House Republican proposal would fund a $3.8 million Engineering enrollment support initiative at the University of Washington.  All told, the House Republican proposal would reduce administrative expenditures at the UW by $6.6 million and increase funding for the College of Engineering by $3.8 million (for a net reduction of $2.8 million).

Again, initial budgets out of both Senate and House Ways & Means committees will be released next week and we will provide full coverage (including budget briefings) of those proposals at that time.

In a press release, the Council for Aid to Education (CAE) reported that giving to universities rebounded in 2011, raising $30.3 billion, an 8.2 percent increase over last year (4.8 percent, adjusted for inflation). The top 20 fundraising institutions, of which the University of Washington is number 14, received a total of $8.24 billion in 2011, representing a 15.8 percent increase over 2010. The UW raised a total of $334.49 million last year, up 17.3 percent from 2010 and up 5.8 percent from 2006. In general, most increases in giving to universities were earmarked for capital purposes, such as constructing buildings, though giving for operational purposes is still the majority at 58.7 percent.

A major driver of the increases in charitable giving to universities is thought to be the better performance of the stock market in 2011, which increased the value of gifts of stock universities received by 38.2 percent from 2010. Furthermore, the economy began growing again in June 2009, which increased confidence and therefore increased giving. Universities, which appeal to a number of philanthropic interests, were good candidates for investment. Finally, endowments gained back some value they had lost due to the recession, increasing by a median of 17 percent.

The increase in charitable giving to universities is an important development that could signal increasing confidence in the economy and growing interest in investing in students and learning. To read the full report, or to read more about giving at the UW, please click here and here.

See the latest OPB brief for information about today’s state revenue forecast update.

House Higher Education committee staff published a table today comparing Senate and House bills, which would create the Council office, define its responsibilities, and set membership for its board. While Senate Bill 6232 passed unanimously on February 10, House Ways & Means is set to introduce a substitute on the House bill. Legislative staff published the table to  compare the original House bill, the engrossed second substitute Senate bill, and the proposed House second substitute bill.

This table is available on OPB’s website.

Last year, Senate Bill 5182 (introduced and signed in 2011) significantly changed the landscape of higher education policy coordination when it eliminated the Higher Education Coordinating Board (HECB) and created the Office of Student Financial Aid. This bill created a steering committee, led by the Governor, to reconsider higher education governance. After meeting through last summer and autumn, they released a final report that made a number of policy suggestions.

The 2012 Legislature has entertained a number of higher education governance bills to replace the HECB and many of its policy functions. These bills would charge a new Student Achievement Council with some coordinating and planning functions, as well as the HECB’s financial aid management function.

At this stage, SSB 6232 is progressing through the legislative process and may serve as the vehicle for creating the Student Achievement Council and defining its role and responsibility in higher education policy and governance. A summary of the second substitute bill is included below.

  • The Student Achievement Council is created
  • Within the Council, the Office of Student Financial Assistance is created to administer financial aid
  • The Council is comprised of four citizen members, one four-year college representative, one Community/Technical College member, one nonprofit independent higher education member, one K12 member, and one student (9 members total)
  • The Council’s goals are to maximize educational attainment and monitor progress towards its goals
    • Additionally, the Council would:
      • Establish short and long term attainment goals
      • Engage in strategic planning
      • Conduct financing planning, study per student funding levels, and continue to make budget recommendations
      • Recommend system design and coordination efforts
      • Set minimum admissions standards
      • Use data to make informed recommendations
      • Arbitrate disputes between the two-year and four-year sectors

 

In a Town Hall Seattle meeting last night, Washington’s six public baccalaureate university presidents and business leaders from REI, Boeing, and Microsoft gathered to discuss  unprecedented cuts to Washington’s public institutions and generate energy for the Seattle Times’ Greater Good Campaign. Organized by the Seattle Times and funded in partnership with local businesses, the campaign intends to expand awareness of the importance of higher education for the vitality and economic security of our communities and advocate for increased funding for public higher education.

Last night, the public baccalaureate presidents expressed their concerns with retaining star faculty, providing access to low and particularly middle-income students who don’t benefit from state-supported financial aid programs, and maintaining affordable tuition rates. Business leaders shared their devotion to the Pacific Northwest, but their worries that our state’s inability to educate enough of its citizens may force their companies to look elsewhere for educated workers.

When moderator and Seattle Times editor Kate Riley asked President Young about his impressions of President Obama’s State of the Union address and blueprint for higher education reform, Young said, “They’ve got the guns aimed at the wrong problem.” In Washington, per student funding has remained flat for twenty years, but resources to support educational funding have completely switched. While the state used to provide 70 percent of the per student funding in the early 1990’s, the state now only provides 30 percent. The total funding remains the same but the primary shareholders of our public universities are now students and parents, not the state.

Footage from the event is available here.