The UW is poised to adopt an annual budget that, for the first time in several years, manages to avoid general budget cuts.
That does not mean it will fund all emerging needs. The proposed budget, which was presented to the Board of Regents at a joint meeting of the Finance and Audit and Academic and Student Affairs committees, meets some but not all of the University’s funding priorities, according to Provost David Thorud.
The proposed budget, which will be submitted to the regents for approval at the June meeting, does provide funding for unavoidable increases in expenses. It also will provide minimal salary increases for faculty, professional staff, librarians, teaching assistants and research assistants (although the actual increases for teaching and research assistants will be subject to a collective bargaining agreement). The proposed budget makes some needed investments in the campus research infrastructure.
Overall, the UW’s annual operating budget is nearly $2.5 billion. In the area of the Core Education Budget, the State Legislature in its most recent session provided an additional $13.5 million, but most of that money is designated for specific purposes. Tuition increases provide an additional $20 million. But the budget also must account for an expected decrease in investment income that is projected at $10 million, which is only partially offset by increased revenue expected from Summer Quarter.
Required expenditures include more than $5.5 million of increased payments for the employer share of health benefits costs. The Legislature directed allocations to the Family Practice Residency Program ($1.9 million), a new proteomics center ($1.6 million), an autism center at UW Tacoma ($675,000) and an education coordinator at the Burke Museum ($50,000). In addition, there are institutional commitments for utilities and other costs totaling nearly $5.9 million, as well as commitments that the president and provost have made to deans and vice presidents, totaling about $2 million.
Salary increases are to be funded partly from funds that the UW received for additional enrollments. In a presentation to the regents, Gary Quarfoth, associate vice provost, pointed out that the practical effect of this decision is that the College of Arts and Sciences will have to absorb additional enrollments without additional funding. But since faculty in the college were among those whose salary needs were most acute, Dean David Hodge had supported this decision.
The budget, characterized as “hold things together” budget, does not fund a number of pressing needs. Among them are across-the-board salary increases for classified staff. Current state law limits what the UW can do for these employees, and negotiations with classified employee unions for 2005 have already begun. Those negotiations for the first time will include wages and benefits.
The current budget, while providing minimal salary increases for some employees, will not reduce significant gaps with the market for any employee group. The budget also does not provide funding for new initiatives from schools, colleges and administrative units, nor does it provide additional money for operation and maintenance of buildings, and for building renewal. No funds were available for expanding campus access for wireless computing, nor to provide staff support for administrative computing applications.
To deal with some pressing issues, one-time funding has been provided in a number of areas. These include implementation of the state Civil Service Reform law passed by the legislature. Funds also will be set aside to support innovative projects, the allocation of which will be decided in consultation with the incoming president. Funds also will be allocated to help deal with bottleneck courses for undergraduates and to provide additional support for improvements to undergraduate advising.
The comprehensive review of admissions applications is requiring additional resources, and an assessment of campus diversity is expected to result in some recommendations that will require funding. Finally, the Board of Regents is planning to hire a Chief Investment Officer and to create an Investment Office as a pilot project.
In the Restricted Programs portion, the proposed budget anticipates an increase of $36 million in grants and contracts and a $9.7 million increase in indirect costs. Spending from gift or endowment accounts is expected to increase by about $6.3 million. Virtually all of the gift and grant money is designated for specific purposes. Increased indirect cost recovery funds will be used to pay for necessities such as utilities and risk management, and for college and department administration of grants. It also will be used to support a variety of recommendations from the Research Advisory Board for projects that will better support the UW research enterprise.
The proposed budget is available online at http://www.washington.edu/admin/pb/home/.