Dear Members of the University Community:
Those among you who watch what transpires in Olympia know that early this morning, the Legislature completed its work and adopted a supplemental budget for the second year of the current biennium. The very good news is that for the first time in three years, funding for higher education and the University of Washington has not been further reduced. For far too long, part of the equation of balancing the state budget in times of fiscal duress has been the erosion of state support for higher education. The hemorrhaging has stopped, thanks to a great many people, including key leadership on both sides of the aisle in the Legislature, the Governor, editorial voices from our state’s newspapers — led prominently by The Seattle Times and its Greater good Campaign — and thousands of alumni, friends, students, faculty, staff, and citizens. We have to keep in mind that our fiscal challenges remain, and we are still dealing with the reductions of the past three years. This budget does not make additional cuts to our funding, but “additional” is the operative word. No money has been added back into our budget to make up for the significant reductions sustained in the original biennial budget. But, nevertheless, this is an important first step on the way to stabilizing our situation and welcome news for our University community and the citizens of Washington.
Other vital pieces of legislation were also adopted during the session that give the University additional flexibility in the areas of procurement, purchasing, human resources, and investment that will ultimately save the University money and generate more resources to support students and our academic mission. It takes a great deal of effort and leadership to see legislation like these bills become law, and we are very grateful to all those who helped shepherd these bills through the grinding process of making law in a democracy.
All of this effort went toward adjusting the 2011–13 biennial budget to deal with further projected revenue shortfalls in the second year of this biennium. We will be at this all over again as we prepare our 2013–15 budget request and resume the hard work of securing stable funding for the future, including funding for salary increases. So while this is a moment to celebrate, I am fully cognizant that there is much heavy lifting to do as we look toward the future.
Michael K. Young