If the budget cuts proposed in December by Gov. Chris Gregoire for 2009-11 were implemented, University of Washington employment would be cut by about 600 jobs. If those cuts were 50 percent larger, employment would shrink by about 800, according to estimates from the UW Office of Planning and Budgeting. The scenarios were prepared at the request of Sen. Derek Kilmer (D-Gig Harbor) and Sen. Rodney Tom (D-Medina). Kilmer is chair of the Senate Higher Education and Workforce Development Committee; Tom is operating budget vice chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee.
“Reductions at these levels would significantly impact the university’s ability to educate our citizens and severely hamper our capacity to create jobs and fuel economic growth,” said UW President Mark Emmert.
While the UW would attempt to implement budget cuts in ways that minimized effects on the instructional program, a cut of the size in the governor’s proposal would mean 200 fewer instructional positions, on top of heavy job losses of about 400 in administrative units. “Without these faculty and teaching professionals, we simply would not be able to provide the level of quality education that our existing students expect and deserve. Therefore, we anticipate that we would have to scale back new admissions in the fall of 2009, which would affect both incoming freshmen and transfer students,” Emmert wrote in a letter to legislators.
Cuts that were 50 percent larger would deepen impacts on undergraduate education considerably, meaning the loss of an additional 200 positions with the majority of those at the instructional level. This would translate into even larger enrollment reductions and fewer services to support the instructional mission. In addition to enrollment decreases, the time it takes students to complete the work necessary for obtaining degrees would increase because instructional resources will shrink. Under the governor’s budget proposal, students on average would need to spend an additional quarter on campus to complete their undergraduate degrees, increasing their cost of education. If cuts were 50 percent greater, it would delay students an additional quarter or possibly longer to complete their degrees.
The state fund cuts proposed by Gregoire would amount to $116 million over the biennium; adding 50 percent would bring the reduction to $174 million. The governor’s proposal assumes a 7 percent increase in resident undergraduate tuition in each year of the biennium.
The proposed reductions would also have significant effect on the UW’s research, public service, student services, libraries and physical plant operations. For example, state funding reductions for research support could result in the loss of nearly $4 million in private and federal research support, leading directly to additional losses in UW jobs and in the local economy.
Declines in student services funding would result in longer wait times for students applying for admission or registering for courses. Cuts to the libraries would result in fewer resources for education and research. Reductions to plant operations would mean that maintenance and preservation funds would drop, resulting in a decline in the quality of classroom and laboratory space.