The Washington State Senate’s proposed supplemental budget, if approved, would mark the first zero-cut budget for WSU in five years.
The Senate’s proposal is a significant improvement from previous proposals from Gov. Chris Gregoire and the Washington State House of Representatives, said Joan King, the chief budget officer for WSU.
“It means no additional cuts in the biennium,” she said. “Picture me doing the happy dance.”
The governor’s proposed supplemental budget includes $26 million in cuts to WSU and the House proposes $9.3 million in cuts.
The remainder of the legislative session will involve reconciling these three proposed budgets. The House and Senate will form a compromise budget, which will then be submitted to the governor for approval. Though Gregoire cannot add any information to the compromise budget, she has the authority to veto portions of the document. WSU will not know the final budget until the governor signs and releases a striking memo.
“We’re not done yet,” King said. “We know the poles. We’ve got a zero cut and a $26 million cut, but we don’t know where in the middle that’s going to fall.”
Any cuts included in the final supplemental budge would fall on top of cuts already established in the biennial budget, which is decided every two years.
During the past four year, WSU’s state allocation has been reduced by more than 50 percent, according to President Elson S. Floyd’s Perspectives column. An additional $26 million in cuts would have “devastating, long-term effects,” he wrote.
The biennial budget was also constructed with the assumption of a 16 percent tuition increase for the 2012-2013 academic year. The Senate’s proposal maintains this tuition increase.
In order to keep legislators informed of the impact any additional cuts would have to WSU, Floyd had been visiting Olympia frequently, King said. WSU also has Director of Governmental Relations Chris Mulick and Chief Legislative Officer Colleen Kerr in Olympia.
“I think that students should know that this is unprecedented for us to have this kind of an excellent budget come out,” King said. “This is the first good budget news we’ve had in a long time.”