The state Legislature has finally concluded its work, with two special sessions, and the UW fared pretty well, considering.
Considering the state faced a shortfall of $2.6 billion and major tax increases were ruled out by both parties, the UW managed to avoid the worst situation — a budget cut of
5 percent or more, which units had been instructed to develop plans to implement.
“It was better than we thought it might have been, and not as bad as it could have been,” said Acting Provost David Thorud in a presentation to the Board of Regents.
Still, there will be cuts, averaging 3 percent to 4 percent for programs and services on the Seattle campus. The UW’s budget was slashed about $40 million. This was partially offset by tuition increases: the Regents voted to raise resident undergraduate tuition by 7 percent for the coming year, and they had previously approved increases for graduate and professional students, as well as nonresident undergraduates.
Despite the institution’s tight fiscal situation, a limited number of essential investments are required, including in financial aid, competitive compensation response and instructional innovation. Five areas will be excluded from cuts: the materials acquisition budget of the libraries, classroom support services, labor relations, UW Police Department, and funded research assistantships used to recruit top graduate students. The cuts will be distributed proportionally to all other academic and administrative units.
The cuts also will be used to fund 2 percent merit salary increases for faculty and professional staff, and to address salary gaps to individuals in selected units that have fallen more than 20 percent behind peer institutions. The increases are expected to take effect Aug. 1.
Individuals should expect to pay more for health care in the coming year, although the precise amounts have yet to be worked out.
The cut to the UW was less than that to many other state agencies, said Director of Government Relations Dick Thompson. But some of those other cuts will also affect the institution: patient revenues to the UW Medical Center are likely to be affected by cuts in state health programs and general assistance.
The UW’s capital budget will permit remodeling of Johnson Hall and provides planning money for the remodel of Guggenheim and Architecture. Funds also were provided for refurbishment of the infrastructure for the H wing in Health Sciences, for an emergency power project, and for campus communications. The budget, according to Thompson, addressed the UW’s highest priority issues “in some form,” although the dollar amount of the capital budget was still pretty small considering the size and condition of the Seattle campus. Partial funding for a required off-ramp at UW Bothell is provided in the transportation budget. UW Tacoma has no new funding but is completing new facilities constructed during 2001-2003.
The Board of Regents will be asked at the July meeting to approve the capital and operating budgets for one year. Thorud cautioned that the state’s financial situation is uncertain, and that the UW is taking a conservative position regarding what may happen in the second year of the biennium. But he said he is hopeful that no cuts may be necessary in 2005 barring any significant new cuts in state general funds.