Office of Planning and Budgeting

Leadership in the Senate Ways and Means Committee released a new Operating budget proposal on May 28th 2015 in the form of Senate Bill 6050. This proposal makes significant changes to the engrossed Senate operating budget, ESSB 5077 and continues to differ from the engrossed House operating budget, ESHB 1106.

Though the 2015 legislature is scheduled to adjourn today, no compromise operating or capital budget exists. Thus a second special session will be required.

All of higher education (including financial aid) would receive nearly $3.6 billion or 9.2 percent increase from the Governor and House budgets. UW receives a total appropriation of $685.7 million of which $666.36 million is from Near General Fund account.

Here are some of the key points from the Senate “Offer “Ways & Means Budget proposal:

  • Tuition affordability program– This budget reduces the operating fee portion of resident undergrad tuition to 14 percent of the State’s average annual wage in FY16 and FY17. It provides $107 million to offset the reduction in operating fees and an additional funding to backfill the foregone tuition revenue. In spite of the above funding, UW anticipates a shortfall of $3.7 million over the biennium.
  • WWAMI – Senate budget provides $9 million over the biennium for continued operations of the WWAMI medical school program, and the bill requires that the state cost per student per year not exceed $45,000 in Spokane.
  • O&M Funding – $1.762 million over the biennium to cover the Operating and maintenance cost of UW Bothell Discovery Hall which is the same as the House budget, but slightly higher than the Governors funding.
  • Compensation Increase – “Like the House proposal, this budget authorizes 3% and 1.8 % increases for FY16 and FY17, respectively. However, this budget would only partially fund the cost of those increases”.

Please refer to our OPB Brief for more information about the special session senate chair budget. Special session house budget is expected to be released Monday.

Today’s Economic and Revenue forecast was released a month ahead of schedule to help lawmakers reach agreement on the 2015–17 operating, capital and transportation budgets.

General Fund-State (GF-S) revenue forecast has been increased by $106 million for the 2013-2015 biennium and by $309 million for 2015-2017.

  • GF-S revenue for the 2013-2015 biennium is now $33.653 billion (9.8% higher than collections in the 2011-13 biennium), and
  • The forecasted GF-S revenue for the 2015-2017 biennium is now $36.758 billion (9.2% higher than collections in the 2013-15 biennium).

Revenue collections through May 10th were $61 M (1.8%) higher than forecasted. The surplus was entirely due to a $69 M surplus in real estate excise tax collections (large sale of commercial property). The surplus was offset by a $21 M shortfall in property tax collections.

A few additional highlights from the update:

  • Oil Prices are higher, and 2015 and 2016 GDP growth are weaker than in the February forecast.
  • Receipts from Revenue Act sources are $12 M (0.4%) higher than forecasted.
  • 17,200 new jobs have been added in the three months since the February forecast.

Thanks for your patience!  We’ve completed our reorganization of the OPB website.  A sitemap of the new layout is available in the Quicklinks menu on the left-hand side of our website.

We hope that the new website structure is more user-friendly and intuitive.  However, if you have questions or if you notice that any bookmarks or hyperlinks no longer work, please let me (Becka Johnson Poppe) know.

Please note, due to space restrictions, we did not end up creating a separate “Compensation” tab.  Instead, a “Compensation” drop-down menu item is available under the “UW Budget” tab.

From Wednesday, May 6, through Friday, May 8, the OPB website will be undergoing reorganization. Changes will include:

  • Reconfiguring the “UW Budget” tab;
  • Adding a new “Compensation” tab;
  • Disaggregating the “Policy Analysis” tab into new tabs for “State Operations,” OPB briefs and the OPBlog; and
  • Deleting the “Campus & Capital Planning” tab (information previously accessed through this tab will continue to be available via the OUA website).

The “Tuition & Fees” and “UW Data” tabs will remain relatively unchanged for the time being.

After the reorganization is complete, we will post a sitemap to the OPB home page and we will post a notice to OPBlog.  If you have saved bookmarks or hyperlinks that no longer work after May 8, please contact Becka Johnson Poppe.

We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. Thank you for your patience!

report released today by Demos, a New York public policy think tank, attempts to identify the reasons why tuition prices at public four-year institutions have increased over the last decade. The findings reinforce the understanding that declining state support, rather than “administrative bloat,” is the primary cause of tuition increases. Although administrative spending did increase marginally, the authors attribute the slight change to rising health care costs[1]  and to new support services required over the past decade – such as those to support growing technology needs.

The report analyzed data from the Delta Cost Project and examined research institutions separately from institutions that primarily award bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

Between 2001 and 2011, state funding per student fell by $3,081 at research universities and, simultaneously, tuition per student increased “in near lockstep,” by $3,628. Consequently, the majority of funding formerly provided by the state is now borne by students and their families.

The Causes of Rising Tuition at Public Research Universities

(taken from Figure 6 in the report)

Causes of rising tuition - research universities

As seen in the figure above, of the tuition hikes at public research universities:

  • 79 percent is attributable to declining state appropriations,
  • 9 percent is due to higher instruction costs (largely the result of rising health insurance premiums)
  • 6 percent is due to more construction costs, and
  • 6 percent is due to increased administrative spending.

With regards to “administrative bloat” – which some still view as a key driver of tuition increases – the report finds that “the number of executives and administrators has actually slightly decreased relative to the size of the student body” and the average number of total employees per 1,000 students has remained relatively constant over the last decade.

Instead, public institutions are employing more part-time faculty and professional staff (e.g. employees who work in admissions, human resources, information technology, etc.). “All of these things are necessary to support the growing university,” said Robbie Hiltonsmith, the report’s author.  Hiltonsmith also noted that when state funding for higher education declines, colleges can either raise tuition to make up for the forgone revenue or look for ways to trim expenses.  “If there isn’t a lot of fat to cut, then their only option is to raise tuition or lose quality of education.”

[1] On average, the amount spent by public universities to provide health insurance to staff and faculty rose by nearly $2,700 per employee between 2001 and 2011, a 40 percent increase.