Office of Planning and Budgeting

Leadership in both House and Senate passed a compromise operating budget in the form of  Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 6052.

All of higher education including financial aid would receive $3.5 billion of Near General Fund (NGF) for the biennium which is 9.2 percent of the overall NGF appropriation of $38.2 billion.

The compromise budget adopts the provisions in Second Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 5954, which reduces the operating fee portion of resident undergrad tuition at all public higher education institutions. In 2015-16, resident undergraduate operating fees at all public institutions are to be 5 percent below the 2014-15 rates. In 2016-17, resident undergraduate operating fees at the state universities (the UW and WSU) are to be 15 percent below the 2014-15 rates; at the regional universities, they are to be 20 percent below the 2014-15 rates; and at the community and technical colleges, they are to be held at 5 percent of the 2014-15 rates.

This budget provides $27 million to partially fund compensation increases of 3% in FY16 and 1.8% in FY17. This budget also partially funds collective bargaining agreements with WFSE and SEIU.

Listed below are some of the Key funding’s provided by this budget:

Computer Science – $6 million over the biennium to increase bachelor’s degrees awarded in Computer Science.

WWAMI – $9 million over the biennium to continue operations in Spokane.

Family Practice Medicine Residency Network – $8 million over the biennium to fund additional medical residencies.

O&M Funding – $1.76 million over the biennium to cover maintenance costs for UW Bothell’s Discovery Hall.

The legislature also passed the final capital budget. For more details on the operating and capital budgets, please refer our OPB Brief.

Leadership in the House Appropriations Committee released a third operating budget proposal today in the form of 2P2SHB 1106 and PSHB 2269. This proposal still differs from the Senate budget proposal SB 6050 and varies from the previous House operating budget P2SHB 1106.

All of higher education (including financial aid) would receive nearly $3.348 billion (8.8 percent of near general fund appropriations). Under this proposal, the UW receives a total appropriation of $650.5 million, of which $598.19 million is from Near General Fund account.

Here are some of the key points from the House Budget (2P2SHB 1106) released today :

  • Tuition – This budget assumes tuition rates remain at the levels charged in 2012-2013. Funding is provided to freeze resident undergrad tuition in the first year; however, funding in the second year is provided in HB 2269 (see below).
  • Compensation Increase – This budget proposal is similar to prior proposals, authorizing a 3% and 1.8% for FY16 and 17 respectively; in addition, this budget provides limited funds for the UW’s contracts with SEIU and WFSE.
  • WWAMI – This budget contains a proviso to transfer $4.68 million a year from WSU to the UW to maintain WWAMI and support expansion of this program to 60 students.
  • 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.

HB 2269 was introduced alongside the primary appropriations bill and would fund the following activities:

  • Medical Residencies – HB 2269 appropriates $8 million over the biennium for medical residencies.
  • Computer Science – This budget provides $8 million over the biennium to increase bachelor’s degrees awarded in computer science.
  • Computer Science Building – This budget appropriates $32 million over the biennium from State building construction account.

We anticipate significant activity this week and will post additional updates to the blog.

Leadership in the House Committee released a new Operating budget proposal in the form of P2SHB 1106 as a counter offer to the Senate budget released last week. This proposal still differs from the Senate budget and varies slightly from the engrossed House operating budget, ESHB 1106.

All of higher education (including financial aid) would receive nearly $3.49 billion or 9 percent. UW receives a total appropriation of $612.3 million of which $591.39 million is from Near General Fund account.

Here are some of the key points from the House “Offer “Budget proposal:

  • Tuition – This budget freezes tuition to all higher education institutions at the levels charged in 2012-2013. Funding is provided to freeze resident undergrad tuition.
  • Compensation Increase – This budget proposal is similar to prior proposals in authorizing a 3% and 1.8% for FY16 and 17, however this budget would only partially fund the cost of increase. This budget provides limited funds for the UW’s contracts with SEIU and WFSE.
  • WWAMI – This budget contains a proviso to transfer $4.68 million a year from WSU to the UW to maintain WWAMI and also a contains a requirement to support 60 first year medical students and 60 second medical students through WWAMI program 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.
  • Computer Science – This budget provides $4.25 million over the biennium to increase bachelor’s degrees awarded in computer science.

Please refer to our OPB Brief for more information about the special session House “Offer” budget.

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.

The Senate capital budget appropriates $102 million in new funding from the State Building Construction Account, which is significantly more than the House capital budget appropriation of $41 million.

Here are some of the major funding items from the Senate capital budget:

  • $32.5 million for computer science and engineering expansion.
  • $16 million for UW Tacoma Urban Solution Center.
  • $46.2 million for Burke Museum.
  • $4 million for Health Science education MHSC T-wing renovation predesign.

The Senate voted its operating budget, Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 5077 off the floor, adopting only five floor amendments, making virtually no changes to the higher education budget presented in our prior budget brief, available here. However, one of these five adopted amendments would redirect state marijuana-related revenues to the general fund, in lieu of allocating those funds to the state’s research universities (per citizen’s Initiative 502).

We will keep you updated as the House and Senate continue to work toward a final conference budget.

U District Urban Design

The Seattle Department of Planning & Development published its Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) on the University District Urban Design Framework. This analysis sets the stage for new zoning for the area of the U District west of 15th Ave. NE  to I-5 and from Ravenna to Portage Bay. Please see the FEIS notice for more information.

Posted by Corrin Sullivan, Intern at the Office of Planning & Budget and Educational Policy student through the month of July 2014. My focus is on higher education access and policy. I look forward to sharing newsworthy events in the higher ed world with you.

Let’s start with a quick summary of two articles from this past week in higher ed news.

Selected California Community Colleges May Soon Offer a Baccalaureate Degree

The California State Assembly Committee on Higher Education approved Senate Bill 850 (SB850) this past week, which launches a pilot program offering fifteen community colleges the opportunity to offer a four-year degree program as soon as January 1, 2015. The Community College Board of Governors and chancellor, in consultation with the California State University (CSU) and University of California (UC) systems, will consider a variety of colleges and select fifteen districts based on four-year degree proposals that meet a variety of criteria; most notably, degrees not available at any of California’s four-year schools and that address the state’s unmet workforce needs. Although the UC system has yet to comment on SB850, California’s Community College Chancellor, Brice Harris, commends the Assembly Committee’s approval of legislation stating that it has the potential to broaden higher educational access and offer more job training opportunities for Californians.

North Dakota Board of Higher Education Unanimously Approves Budget Requesting System-Wide Tuition Freeze

The North Dakota Board of Higher Education recently approved its biennium budget request, which asks for an approximate 14 percent increase in funding in exchange for freezing tuition rates among its eleven colleges and universities for the coming biennium (2015-17). Based on a new funding formula instituted in the 2013 legislative session that relies largely on credit-hour completion, the budget’s $774 base request reflects a $94 million dollar increase from the previous year’s request. The $94 million dollar increase includes a $49 million dollar request to cover operating costs associated with additional credits taken at the state’s colleges and universities. In addition to the $94 million base increase, the board has also requested $9.5 million dollars to cover sums “students would have to cover without a freeze,” compounded with several smaller requests to meet institutional equipment and staffing needs. The Board states that they will freeze tuition rates at all colleges and universities from 2015 through 2017 if and only if, the legislature agrees to fully fund the base budget and increase employee salaries and benefits. Noting affordability as an issue in declining student enrollment numbers, the freeze aims to decrease tuition so that rates are competitive with the state’s regional counterparts.

While the Board has frozen tuition rates at the state’s two-year schools for four of the past six years, this request to freeze tuition for all North Dakota higher education institutions is unprecedented. The budget is before Governor Jack Dalrymple, pending recommendations, prior to advancing to the state’s legislature.

The University of Washington (UW) plans to convert a small section of the UDistrict into a “startup hub” that will help connect UW research activity with the entrepreneurial talent who can help commercialize it. The effort will begin with just one floor of Condon Hall – the old law school, which currently houses departments displaced by other campus construction – but will expand if there is demand. The ground floor will be transformed into an open meeting area, or “mixing chamber,” where University-based entrepreneurs can connect and collaborate with the startup community, including startups that don’t necessarily have a connection to the UW. The third floor may eventually be converted into space for startups. So far, TechStars, Founder’s Co-op, and UP Global (formerly Startup Weekend) are considering taking space on the second floor starting next July.

The Office of Planning & Budgeting and the Office of the University Architect are working on this and other UDistrict planning efforts. To read more about this project, see the article by GeekWire. For more information about UDistrict planning as a whole, see the recent Seattle Times article and visit the U District Livability Partnership website.

On Tuesday, June 18, the Washington State Economic & Revenue Forecast Council (ERFC) released its quarterly update of General Fund-State (GFS) revenues. Compared with the March forecast, expected GFS revenues are up $110 million for the current biennium (2011-13) and $121 million for the next biennium (2013-15), meaning legislators have an additional $231 million to factor into their budget negotiations.

While these changes are positive, they represent very minor adjustments. Under the updated forecast, the state is expected to take in $30.65 billion in the current biennium and $32.66 billion in the next, thus the increases represent adjustments of less than 0.5 percent each.

Most of the positive variance came from increases in forecasted housing construction, taxable real estate activity, and Revenue Act taxes. Real estate excise taxes came in $34 million (34 percent) higher than forecasted and Revenue Act taxes came in $54 million (2 percent) higher—exceeding the January 2008 pre-recession peak. Lower than expected inflation and employment worked against these gains, but weren’t enough to negate them.  Although Washington employment has been slowly increasing in most sectors (especially construction), aerospace and government employment are in decline.

It is important to note that much uncertainty surrounds the council’s 2013-15 baseline forecast due to the Federal sequester, Europe’s recession, and China’s slowing economic growth. The ERFC gives its baseline a 50 percent probability and its optimistic and pessimistic alternative forecasts 20 percent and 30 percent respectively. The optimistic forecast is $2.5 billion above the baseline and the pessimistic forecast is $2.5 billion below.

In addition, it should be noted that, like the March forecast, the June update did not assume any revenue from taxable marijuana sales as the Federal Government’s response to Initiative 502 is still unclear.

Some state lawmakers are optimistic that the new forecast will expedite their budget negotiations; however, the two sides’ have a ways to go before the end of the fiscal year on June 30th (12 days from now). “We’ll get closer as a result of this,” said Representative Ross Hunter during a press conference Tuesday morning.

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