December 18, 2008

What a difference a biennium makes

By Randy Hodgins

The Governor just finished her press conference on the proposed 2009-11 budget and the news was as grim as predicted.  For the UW, in less than two years we have gone from the best budget in twenty years to a significant state funding reduction.

We will be posting more details later.  The quick summary of the Governor’s budget includes:

For the UW, a reduction of state funding of approximately $116 million for the upcoming biennium (13 percent)

Tuition increases assumed at 7 percent per year – however, no additional increases in fees are authorized.

Suspending pay increases for state-employees and teachers;

Other four-year colleges took similar-percentage reductions; community and technical colleges were not reduced as much.

In her press conference, the Governor said the state is facing a $5.7 billion shortfall and indicated the March revenue forecast could show a further decline.  She said the overall budget will result in 2,600 fewer state employees with significant layoffs. Her budget proposes no tax increases.

On the capital budget side, the Governor’s proposed 2009-11 budget would include state construction funding for the Molecular Engineering Building and the Joy Building renovation portion of the UW Tacoma Phase 3 project.  No state construction funding is provided for Denny Hall and Balmer Hall although authorization is provided to the UW to issue certificates of participation against building account revenues for these projects.
Pre-design funding is included for the Global Public Health and Pharmacy building, the House of Knowledge project, and future Restore the Core renovations to Miller and Anderson Halls.  In these cases, however, funding is spread over three biennia which will have a detrimental impact on the Restore the Core phasing program.

Other cuts in the proposed budget are also of deep concern, particularly to UW Medicine.  Health care and human services face substantial reductions, including major cuts to the basic health plan, state funding for public health services, and reduced service levels for other state-funded health services.

Here is a link to the budget summary document released by the Office of Financial Management.  For those who want to see the press conference it will repeat on TVW (channel 23 on Comcast systems) at noon, 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. — or you can watch online at tvw.org.

We will post more details and reactions as they become available.

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