|Dear Members of the University Community:
Today, the governor released her 2012 supplemental budget proposal to address an additional $2 billion shortfall for the current state biennial budget. As we expected, the proposed budget represents difficult choices for our state and real impacts to Washington’s citizens. The budget proposal includes an additional 17% budget reduction for the UW (approximately $38 million), but most importantly, it also includes tax proposals that if adopted would restore the $38 million cut. Other cuts in the budget have impacts on the University, most notably, $26.5 million in grants for hospitals that provide a significant amount of charity care, particularly the University of Washington health system.
As we are all aware, over the past three years, state funding for the University of Washington has been cut in half. Continuing to rely on steep tuition increases, job losses and reduced access to address state budget challenges is not sustainable. Our students and families and faculty and staff deserve better. A budget that relies only on further reductions without considering revenues would be harmful to our economy and the future of Washington state.
That is why I’m both pleased and grateful that Gov. Gregoire has chosen to take a balanced approach to addressing the present fiscal crisis. By prioritizing investments in higher education, the governor has clearly demonstrated her strong commitment to a better future for our citizens. I recognize that this budget proposal does not solve all of our challenges, and many of the cuts in this budget will be painful for our citizens. However, by proposing a pathway to prevent further deterioration in state funding for higher education, it represents a strong step on the road to economic recovery.
There is still a long, difficult road ahead. November 28th marks the start of the legislative special session, when Gov. Gregoire’s proposal will be taken up, along with other ideas for balancing the state budget. There will be no quick and easy fix to the problem. The University of Washington supports a fair and balanced approach to addressing the state’s budget crisis, and we are committed to working productively with the state legislature in the months ahead.
November 21, 2011