Thursday, April 2, 2009

House and Senate Budget Proposals

Dear Colleagues:

The injurious budget proposals put forward by the Senate and the House Ways and Means Committees call upon us to act effectively to protect our university and our values. This letter suggests some resources.

Useful information can be found in two new documents on the Planning and Budgeting website,, under Planning and Budgeting Briefs:

. Initial House and Senate Chair Budgets for 2009-11 Operating Budgets;
. Tuition Increase Mitigation Chart

Most of you know that academic units were asked to model cuts in their state-funded budgets at 8%, 10%, and 12% levels (each school's proposals can be found on the Planning & Budgeting website). To understand the effect of the Senate and House proposals on educational programs, we need to look at budget figures in annual terms, adding to the drastically reduced state allocations the portion (just over 40%) of our educational budget funded by tuition. While the Vice Provost's Office will soon provide more reliable calculations, the Senate's budget appears to place us in the 12% range; the House budget might deepen the cuts by another 4% or so.

As faculty, we are better positioned than anyone to understand just how devastating such cuts would be to our programs, and in particular to objectives that legislators value: broad access to higher educational opportunities, and equipping graduates with skills to support our state's knowledge-dependent economy. The following are examples of likely

. Loss of x sections of basic writing, with y students each, sharply reducing
opportunities for students to learn required workplace skills and complete their
. Loss of x sections of chemistry (physics, math, etc.), cutting back severely the core
preparation for high-demand areas such as science, technology, engineering, and

You may wish to share your understanding of such effects with policymakers.
If so, please consult our Faculty Legislative Representative's website: .

Negotiations among policymakers are now at a critical stage, and the range of options is narrowing. Substantial raises in resident undergraduate tuition rates now seem the most realistic way to mitigate damage to our educational mission. Among other considerations, allowing the UW to raise more funds through tuition does not reduce funding available for other public goods such as housing, health care, and basic subsistence which have also been severely slashed in these budget proposals. We are not alone in suffering the pain of injured institutions, nor do we stand alone in keeping alive the hope of a brighter future.

David Lovell, Chair
Faculty Senate