Dear Members of the University Community:
Yesterday, Governor Gregoire released a 2010 supplemental budget proposal that addresses an additional $2.6 billion projected shortfall for the 2009-11 biennial state budget (see my Nov. 19 message to the University community). By law, the governor is required to submit a balanced budget based on current state tax revenue.
The proposed budget is by any measure a train wreck for the state, and without additional revenue would surely result in very negative consequences for many people, including students and the higher education institutions they attend. As Governor Gregoire said yesterday, she does not support this budget proposal and believes the state must consider ways to generate additional revenue to fill the gap.
We are especially concerned about the impacts this budget proposal would have on our students. Losing over half of our state’s nationally-recognized need-grant program would shut out thousands of Washington’s finest students from a chance at a college degree and a better future. Without the state need-grant program, Husky Promise scholarships would be severely curtailed, and the 7,000 students who currently are able to attend the UW because of these scholarships would likely be unable to continue. Higher education would become a luxury only the well-to-do could afford.
This budget proposal also includes a state funding cut of $20.9 million for the University, or an additional 6.4 percent. While we hope many of the proposed budget cuts will not survive legislative action, it is likely that higher education institutions, along with other state agencies, will be asked to take a further budget reduction in the remainder of this biennium. Coming on the heels of the cuts we have already taken this biennium, it will be very difficult to find additional areas to reduce spending.
Further erosion of state support for the UW will make it even harder for us to meet the educational needs of our students. As I said in a press statement I issued yesterday, no one—the governor, the Legislature, or the University—can control the economy. But we also cannot afford to decimate critical programs and opportunities for our state’s students. It is time for the Legislature and the governor to look for additional revenue sources to help moderate these unacceptable impacts on our state’s citizens.
We will keep you informed about the progress of budget discussions in Olympia and ask once again for everyone to pull together as we find ways to make it through these difficult economic times.
Mark A. Emmert