PULLMAN – President Elson S. Floyd painted a picture of the daunting budget situation facing Washington State University during a budget forum held Friday, March 11, at the Compton Union Building. The session also was videostreamed to WSU locations statewide.
While university officials know that more budget cuts are looming, they still are far from certain about what level of cuts that the university will face.
“The challenge is obvious. (At this point) I have no idea what I am trying to balance my budget to,” Floyd said.
Governor’s proposed budget
Last December, Gov. Chris Gregoire proposed a budget that would reduce WSU’s state allocation by $98 million for the 2011-13 bienium. This comes on the heels of more than $136 million in cuts that the university has already absorbed over the past 18 months.
The university was asked to give the Legislature scenarios outlining how it would implement budget reductions on the level called for in the governor’s budget, as well as scenarios outlining the university’s possible responses to that level of cuts plus 15 percent and plus 30 percent.
Possible not actual
The president stressed that those scenarios are only illustrative of possible responses and are not actually cuts that university officials are planning. He said that, as the budget picture becomes clearer, “We’re going to be very deliberate about keeping you updated and informed.”
What makes that more difficult, Floyd said, is that “this is a very complicated, moving
target.” He said that often, from one day to the next, he receives different, even conflicting, information from state leaders he meets with in Olympia.
March 17 revenue update
The next major step in the process will come on March 17, when the state is expected to issue an updated revenue forecast. Floyd said that most state leaders believe that forecast will show a continued erosion in tax revenues.
Following that revenue forecast, the House and the Senate will both produce budgets. They will then reach agreement through conference committee on a final budget to be sent to the governor for her approval. The Legislature is scheduled to adjourn April 24. The 2011-13 biennial budget will go into effect on July 1.