State Relations

Governor’s 2008 Supplemental Budget Released

Governor Gregoire released her 2008 supplemental budget proposal this morning in Olympia.  The $144 million general fund spending proposal includes a “net” total of $99 million in what she terms “required spending items” such as caseloads, litigation, federal requirements, a one-time $105 million savings in health care benefit costs (see below) and other unavoidable costs.

The supplemental budget also calls for $45 million in “targeted investments” which are primarily one time items for disaster response and recovery, education and campus safety, health care and patient safety and community safety.  The major “winner” in the Governor’s spending plan is the state’s savings accounts, with $430 million going into the newly enacted budget stabilization account (Rainy Day Fund) and $774 million in unrestricted reserves.

The Governor’s budget includes a total of $8 million for the University of Washington for the following capital and operating budget items:

  • $4.795 million one-time capital and operating funding for campus safety (discussed previously in the blog)
  • $2.000 million one-time capital funding for UW Tacoma land acquisition
  • $1.109 million on-going operating funding for UW North Sound campus start-up
  • $125,000 one-time funding for the Ruckelshaus Center to work property and land rights issues
  • $49,000 on-going operating funding for a technical pension adjustment

All state agencies (including the UW by $14.8 million) had their budgets reduced through a technical adjustment for employee health care benefit costs in the second year of the biennium.  The surplus in the public employee benefits account is large enough that the Governor is proposing to use it to “temporarily” reduce the state cost of providing health care benefits in fiscal year 2008-09 by a one-time total of $105 million, about half of which comes from higher education agencies.  The reduction has no effect on the benefits that will be provided to state employees.

The Governor’s proposal is truly one of the smallest supplemental budget recommendations I can remember in many, many years.  She made it clear throughout the fall that she was going to keep this budget rather lean and only fund those items that in her judgment, could not wait until the 2009 session.  In that regard, her proposal exceeds even my expectations for de minimus spending.

Obviously, a number of important items which were included in the UW’s request were not funded or funded only partially in the Governor’s supplemental budget.  Our goal will be to convince the legislature to include a number of them in their own spending proposals which they will begin preparing with they convene in Olympia on January 14.

For more detailed information on the Governor’s budget, visit the Office of Financial Management website.