Office of Planning and Budgeting

The 105-day state legislative session officially ended this Sunday, April 28th. Unfortunately, the state legislature was unable to reach a compromise on the budget by the end of the session. A significant cause of the impasse is the Washington State Supreme Court ruling that requires the legislature to fully fund K-12 education.  The House budget proposal repeals eleven tax exemptions and extends several other taxes, diverting $1.17 billion into education, while the Senate version cuts several social programs to fund education with $1 billion. Governor Inslee has called a special session, to begin May 13th, in order to pass a compromise budget and to pass legislation on other issues such as universal background checks for gun purchases, the state DREAM act, tougher DUI laws, and the Reproductive Parity Act. When special session begins, all bills that have passed out of the house of origin will be reintroduced in that house and placed on third reading.  Budget writers will stay in Olympia to try to work on a compromise in the next two weeks. As always, we will post any updates on their progress to this blog. Be sure to monitor the UW State Relations blog for updates as well.

Click here to watch Governor Inslee announce the special session. To read more about the proposed budgets and other legislation, check out this article.

Of the nearly 900 schools that received federal money for research and development (R&D) in FY 2011, the UW ranks first among public institutions and second overall in terms of federal research funding. According to a study by the National Science Foundation (NSF), approximately 20 percent of all federal R&D support went to just 10 universities. 24/7 Wall St. reviewed those universities, Table 1 summarizes their findings.

Johns Hopkins University, a private institution, topped the list with nearly $1.9 billion—more than doubling what any other university received that year. The majority of Johns Hopkins’ federal funding came from the Dept. of Defense and NASA. The university also brought in billions via fundraising efforts.

The UW came in second with almost $950 million in federal R&D funding—the most of any public school. The majority of the UW’s money came from the Dept. of Health and Human Services; however, the University was the top beneficiary of NSF funding, receiving more than $145 million in 2011.

Year after year, the same schools consistently receive the most money, said Ronda Britt, a survey statistician with the NSF. 24/7 Wall St. quotes her as saying, these universities “have big research programs that receive a lot of support year after year, and have a lot of infrastructure that helps them keep the money stable.” This holds true for the UW, which has ranked first among public schools since 1974. Having large endowments was another commonality of the top 10 schools, yet federal funding covered the bulk of R&D expenditures in all cases.

As these universities rely heavily on the federal government to support their research, many are concerned about the sweeping cuts of sequestration. The UW and other universities are preparing for a range of possible impacts. As described in our joint brief, the sequester could reduce the UW’s federal grant and contract support by an estimated $75M to $100M during FY13. The UW community is encouraged to remain cautious and conservative in spending federal awards and in planning for future federal funding.

On Monday, Governor Rick Scott of Florida signed a bill that gives special status and increased funding to Florida’s top two universities. The bill designates the University of Florida and Florida State University as “pre-eminent” universities and provides them with an extra $15 million per year, for five years, to help them become two of the top ten research universities in the nation. The money  pays for increased faculty salaries and more research funding. In addition, legislators are considering restoring $300 million in funding that was cut in the 2012 legislative session. The bill also relieves the two universities of certain onerous reporting requirements. Eric Barron, president of Florida State, claims the increased funding will not only improve the quality of education at his university but also improve the return on investment of state money, because prominent faculty members will not be “raided” by other institutions were they would be paid much more. 

The bill also provides $10 million more in funding for online degree programs this year, with $5 million appropriated in subsequent years. Tuition for online programs is capped to 75 percent of tuition for on-campus programs. The legislature would like to see increased out-of-state enrollment in these online courses, as online degree programs have already provided an additional $70 million in revenue a year for the University of Florida.

To read more about the Florida legislation, check out the Chronicle’s article here. To read about current proposals for higher education funding in Washington state, please see our recent briefs on Governor Inslee’s budget priorities or the Senate and House budgets.

The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) recently released its report on faculty salaries for 2012-2013. Salaries for full-time faculty members rose by an average of 1.7 percent in 2012-2013, which offsets inflation (estimated at 1.7 percent in 2012-13). However, increases varied widely across institution type—pay at private universities was much higher than salaries at public institutions, and professors at doctoral universities made significantly more than faculty at baccalaureate institutions. Furthermore, the survey counts only faculty members who are employed full-time; part-time adjuncts, whose pay is generally significantly lower than that of full-time professors, are excluded.

Inside Higher Ed has compiled a list of the highest-paid full professors in academia.  Based on the average salary of full professors, Columbia University ($212,300), Stanford University ($207,300), University of Chicago ($203,600), Harvard University ($203,000) and Princeton University ($200,000) are the top five highest-paying institutions. Of the ten universities with the highest average pay, not a single institution is public. The highest-paid full professors at public institutions are at University of California, Los Angeles, ($167,000), New Jersey Institute of Technology ($166,700), University of California, Berkeley ($158,900), Rutgers University at Newark ($154,700) and Rutgers University at New Brunswick ($151,000).

Detailed information about the UW’s submission to AAUP can be found here. In addition, OPB has prepared a table that compares UW average faculty salaries to those at our Global Challenge State (GCS) peer institutions. UCLA and Rutgers University, whose full professors are some of the highest paid in academia, are both in the GCS peer group. According to our analysis, average faculty salaries (of full, associate, and assistant professors combined) would need to increase by 11.4 percent to equal the GCS peer average. The average salary of full professors would need to increase 16 percent and that of associate professors would need to increase 9.2 percent to equal the peer average. As can be seen on the graph below, the UW’s salaries moved closer to those of the GCS peers between 2003 and 2008, but this progress reversed in 2009, when the legislature imposed a four-year salary freeze.

House Ways & Means Chair Ross Hunter released the House budget proposal today. Please see the OPB Brief for a complete analysis. Table 1 shows the total funding the UW would receive under the House chair budget, divided into three standard categories: the carry forward level, the maintenance level and the performance level.

The House assumes that the UW will increase undergraduate resident tuition by 5 percent each year, thus making more revenue available. However, the House Chair budget requires that $2 million go toward the College of Engineering, $12 million be used to create a Clean Energy Institute, and a total of $16.5 million of the appropriation be used to support enrollments in Computer Science and Engineering.

As shown in the table below, once recognized additional operational needs are met and once dedicated funds are removed from the equation, the UW is left with almost $10 million less in net new state funding in 2013-15 compared to the previous biennium under the House budget.  Once the potential additional tuition revenue is taken into account, however, the UW fares better under the House budget, even with its spending requirements.  Moreover, the Senate relies on a draconian 20 percent surcharge on international student tuition to generate this additional funding amount.  As mentioned in our previous brief, given that the majority of international students in Washington are enrolled at the UW, this amounts to a tax on UW students. It is expected that the surcharge will lead to a decline in international student enrollments, which could lead to an overall reduction of revenue for the UW.

We are still reviewing the potential impacts of this budget proposal and will provide revisions to the brief as more information becomes available. Once the House chair budget passes the floor (which is expected later this week), leaders of the House and Senate will begin negotiations to reconcile the differences between their respective approaches. It is likely that the UW will not have a clear sense of its actual anticipated state funding level until the end of this month at the earliest.

For the first time since “9/11”, the number of Chinese students applying to American graduate programs has declined significantly. According to a Council of Graduate Schools report released today, the number of graduate applications from China is down 5 percent this year, after having risen by 19, 21 and 20 percent in the previous three years.

The drop in graduate applications from China was offset by increases from India and Brazil, resulting in an overall increase of 1 percent in international student applications. However, this figure remains concerning: international graduate applications had increased by 9, 11 and 9 percent in the previous three years.

This news comes as the Washington State Senate contemplates imposing a 20% surcharge on tuition paid by international students to fund higher education in the state. The UW has already warned the such a surcharge would drive away top talent, reduce positive externalities associated with diversity, and generally make the UW less competitive compared to its peers. Today’s report merely strengthens the argument: even without the surcharge, the UW will be competing for a shrinking pool of top international talent.

To follow developments regarding the surcharge proposal (SB 5893), visit BillTracker.

Senate Ways & Means Chair Andy Hill released the Senate budget proposal today. Please see the OPB Brief for a complete analysis.

Tuition: The Senate Chair budget contains language allowing the Regents to set tuition and fees for all student categories other than resident undergraduates. The budget bill assumes no tuition increases for resident undergraduates; however, UW Regents retain the authority to set tuition rates under HB 1795. It is crucial to note that the budget states that these tuition provisions will be nullified if SB 5883 passes. SB 5883 would require a 3 percent decrease in resident undergraduate tuition for 2013-14.

Compensation: The budget deems the UW’s collective bargaining agreements (CBA) to be financially feasible and restores the 3 percent salary cut imposed on state agencies in the last biennium. We assume the budget lifts the current salary freeze for state employees as it makes no mention of extending it. In addition, the budget assumes savings by changing the definition of “full time” employee to align state employee healthcare eligibility with the federal standard set out in the Affordable Care Act. This is a significant change in policy, and we expect it to become a serious topic of public debate in the weeks to come.

Other policy changes affecting the UW include:

  1. Funding for the Joint Aerospace Initiative with WSU;
  2. Appropriations for a new Center on Ocean pH Balance;
  3. One-time, performance-based funding;
  4. Operation and maintenance funding for MolE and Dempsey Hall;
  5. Funding reductions related to administrative efficiencies;
  6. An international student surcharge; and
  7. A fund transfer from the UW Hospital Account.

The Senate chair budget proposal is one of a series of budgets released as part of the biennial budget process; the House is expected to release its budget proposal next week. It is likely that the UW will not have a clear sense of its actual anticipated state funding level until later this month.

On Thursday, Governor Inslee released his budget priorities for the 2013-15 biennium. OPB released a comprehensive brief on the plan, but below is a quick summary of the major points in the Governor’s budget.

Governor Inslee’s plan would fund all of higher education, including financial aid, with nearly $3 billion (8.4 percent of the total budget), of which the University of Washington would receive just over $232 million per year. This funding level represents about $3.6 million more per year than the UW would have received under Governor Gregoire’s “New Law” budget. Governor Inslee’s plan also:

  • Authorizes tuition increases of up to five percent per year for resident undergraduates at UW and WSU (three percent at other four-year universities). While the UW still has tuition setting authority, it must provide increased financial aid if it raises tuition above five percent.
  • Provides the UW with $6 million per FY to create a Clean Energy Institute with the purpose of researching energy storage and solar energy.
  • Appropriates$1 million per FY to the UW’s College of Engineering to support increased enrollments.
  • Funds the joint Aerospace Initiative and the Center on Ocean Acidification at levels consistent with Governor Gregoire’s budgets.
  • Gives additional funding to financial aid to keep pace with tuition increases and to fully fund the College Bound scholarship program.

Governor Inslee’s plan restores the 3 percent salary cut imposed on state agencies in the last biennium, but includes no mention of the current salary freeze for state employees, which is set to expire on June 30, 2013. We assume this means the freeze will be lifted, however the Governor’s plan does not provide explicit funding for wage increases.

Governor Inslee’s capital budget plan is identical to Governor Gregoire’s, and includes money for the UW’s top capital priorities such as minor capital repair, the UW Tower Chilled Water System Replacement, and Magnuson Health Sciences Center Roofing Replacement.

While Governor Inslee’s budget blueprint is an important step in the budget process, we expect the UW will not have a clear picture of its actual FY14 and FY15 funding levels for at least another month. We will post updates to this blog when the Senate and House release their budgets. Please also monitor the State Relations website for information.