State Relations

Checking in on the Global Challenge States

You may recall that this summer, the Office of State Relations began publishing a quarterly report called Global Challenge State Update.  The purpose of the report is to provide interested parties with information on higher education fiscal and policy matters in those states which the UW is now being benchmarked against for both funding and accountability measures.

A couple of weeks ago, we posted the September 2007 update and I’d like to share some of the highlights if you haven’t had time to download the full report off the state relations website.

California finally passed its state budget in late August and the University of California schools fared very well.  General fund appropriations increased by over 6 percent with student fees increasing by 7 percent (identical to Washington State).  Enrollments will grow by over 5,000 systemwide and an additional $20 million in new state funding was included for research initiatives.

Virginia is one of several states on the eastern seaboard that are experiencing budget shortfalls.  Despite the passage of the much-publicized “Chartered University Initiative” just two years ago, Governor Timothy Kaine has asked the University of Virginia to reduce expenditures by 7.5 percent because they are currently funded at a level that is at or above the level needed to meet “base funding adequacy.”

Massachusetts finished their new state budget this past July with higher education receiving a 4 percent annual increase in state funding.  The budget also creates a new Commonwealth Covenant Fund to make loan repayments for graduates who are employed in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Connecticut provided for a rather modest 2.5 percent funding increase for public higher education in their recently enacted budget.  However, significant budget investments were made in financial aid programs which will permit more than 10,000 new students to receive grants in 2008 — an increase of more than 45 percent.

New Jersey provided for a 4 percent budget increase for Rutgers University over the prior year state budget.  In addition, the legislature approved a $450 million stem cell research bond that will go before the voters this November.

Maryland is another eastern state with budget troubles and the Governor has asked the University of Maryland system to reduce spending by 1 percent or $12 million.  Maryland has also established a Legislative Commission to Develop the Maryland Model for Funding Higher Education.  The group continues to meet as it attempts to better integrate state policies on tuition, state appropriations and financial aid.