Office of Planning and Budgeting

Friday, the Seattle Times published an article about a potential agreement between lawmakers to, given several years of steep funding cuts, allow Washington’s universities to set undergraduate resident tuition rates for a limited number of years and with new financial aid and accountability requirements.

News of this agreement comes as the Legislature is in the middle of a 30 day special session, and while a negotiated budget and resolution on tuition rates for resident undergraduate students is not yet final, a new OPB brief provides some national context for and information about tuition setting policy.

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.

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!

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.

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.

Last week, Senate and House Fiscal and Higher Education Committee leadership asked all public baccalaureate institutions and the community and technical colleges to identify specific budget reductions at three levels for 2011-13. For the UW, those cut intervals were:  The Governor’s proposed $189.8 million cut, a $218 million cut (Governor’s cut + 15%), and a $246 million cut (Governor’s cut + 30%). For scale, the UW received $627 million in state funds for the 2009-11 biennium (Fiscal Years 2010 and 2011).

Potential reductions identified by the UW and submitted by President Wise to the Legislature yesterday were sobering, although President Wise pointed out in correspondence to campus leadership that some of the examples in the letter,  “…may come to pass, but only as a result of the strategic budget process currently underway, not because of reference in the letter.”

Neither the House nor the Senate Fiscal Committee has submitted their budget proposal for the 2011-13 biennium yet and we do not know how each committee will ultimately handle the UW’s state appropriation. While we have the Governor’s proposed budget in hand, the appropriations process is far from being over. We will continue to post state budget updates to this blog as they develop.

Media coverage of our submission to the Legislature is available here, here, and here.

Leadership in both fiscal committees of the House of Representatives and Senate signed a compromise budget to closing the remaining FY 2011 budget deficit. Both new cuts and fund transfers are included in the compromise.

While the budget is not final and both chambers must take a floor vote, the conference budget is in near final form. Higher education institutions would not receive direct state funding cuts, but would be asked to backfill a new cut to the State Need Grant (SNG) with institution resources. The UW would be directed to use $5,658,000 of internal funds to cover the general fund reduction to the SNG.

Also note that higher education institutions were exempt from a salary reduction (furlough) requirement.

Lastly, the compromise budget did not close the Basic Health Plan but it did make significant cuts to K12 and other social services.

The economic outlook for state budgets remains bleak and additional steep cuts to public higher education inevitable, making it imperative to re-imagine how institutions can become more efficient and self-sufficient while remaining effective and accountable to the public. For many institutions greater autonomy from the practices and requirements of state government seems attractive, and this topic is explored in OPB’s latest brief on variations in institutional autonomy among the UW and its peers.

Paul Jenny, Vice Provost of Planning & Budgeting, presented the Governor’s proposed budget for higher education and the UW to our Board of Regents last Thursday. Paul touched on the upcoming state revenue forecast, the Governor’s cuts to all institutions, and the impact of future state funding cuts on campus.

The Regents expressed many concerns throughout the presentation, but a few points proved especially troubling:

  • If the Governor’s budget is adopted, higher education institutions’ funding would be cut by half, or $500 million since FY 2008.
  • State funding for higher education institutions on a per student full time equivalent (FTE) basis has deteriorated. While the state covered 70% of funding per student FTE in 1991, the Governor’s budget would only cover 30% of needed funding per student FTE.
  • The Governor’s budget proposes 11% tuition rate increases for resident undergraduates, but even with tuition increases factored in from all student categories, the UW would still face a net $91 million reduction in state funding.

As usual, Planning & Budgeting will continue to post budget updates throughout the 2011 Legislative Session on this blog. As we’ve stressed before, the Governor’s budget is the first budget proposal for the upcoming biennium; we have a long session before us and no budget is final at this point.

Today, the Office of State Relations and the Office of Planning and Budgeting held a legislative session overview for folks across campus who are frequently called upon to respond to requests for information during session, including providing feedback on proposed bills, completing fiscal note responses, or working with state relations to testify or answer questions in Olympia.

Please visit our State Budget Process webpage to view or print all four presentations that were made this afternoon, to access the UW BillTracker, and other documents and presentations relating to the State budget process.

Also make sure to subscribe to OPBlog and to the State Relations Blog for regular updates throughout Session and beyond.

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