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WSU provides update on budget reduction process

The Cougar Pride statue at the WSU Pullman campus
Cougar Pride monument on the WSU Pullman campus

Washington State University has announced key recommendations to help guide units throughout the WSU system through necessary budget reductions for the 2021 fiscal year.

These recommendations come after an extensive hearing and review process involving department and university leaders, who are working together to cope with anticipated declines in state revenue caused by COVID-19. The state assigned WSU a budget reduction target of $37.2 million and the university asked all units throughout the system to complete scenarios for reducing their area’s permanent budget line funds by 10%.

“Decision-making across the WSU system has been and will continue to be guided by the principle commitment to maintaining instructional quality and advising for our students,” Stacy Pearson, vice president of finance and administration, wrote in an email message sent Monday to all faculty and staff.

The full message can be read online.

What follows are the key recommendations:

System-wide furloughs will not be implemented at this time.

  • Areas may consider other personnel actions such as holding open vacancies, FTE reductions, phased retirements and position eliminations in finalizing FY 21 budgets. Timelines for actions impacting employees must be coordinated with Human Resource Services for compliance with state law and university policy.
  • Furloughs may be considered in the future if deeper cuts in state funding are announced or if student enrollment is significantly less than currently projected.
  • Auxiliaries and other self‑support areas that do not receive state funding may need to utilize furloughs based on operating revenue reductions related to COVID‑19 impacts.

Areas with positive core fund carryforward balances will be allowed to use up to 5% of their June 30, 2020 carryforward to offset their 10% reduction target on a one‑time basis.

  • This action is possible due to the outstanding efforts and achievements of the fiscal recovery effort that has improved the University’s overall fiscal health. Preliminary 3‑year results indicate an increase in core fund carryforward of more than $30 million.
  • Based on this preliminary assessment, a portion of these carryforward funds can be used to offset up to $5 million of the University $37.2 million FY 2021 reduction target.

Area reduction targets will be recalculated based on 10% of the actual June 30, 2020 PBL. The planning targets were based on estimated PBL balances; this revision will determine reductions based on the true planning-level budget of each area going into FY 2021.

  • Central area savings of approximately $2.5 million will be used to mitigate the reduction targets for the College of Arts and Sciences, the WSU Libraries, and the Office of External Affairs and Government Relations. The first two areas are essential to enabling students to achieve their educational goals (budget guidance core principle No. 1). Supporting External Affairs and Government Relations is critical to our efforts in obtaining additional federal and state funds to help with our COVID‑19 response.

These recommendations followed extensive review and analysis of department proposals by Pearson, President Kirk Schulz, former interim Provost Bryan Slinker, Provost Elizabeth Chilton, Vice President of Health Sciences Daryll DeWald, Vice President of Research Chris Keane, Vice President of Student Affairs Mary Jo Gonzales, and Office of the President Chief of Staff Christine Hoyt.

An outline of the next steps in the budgeting process can be found as part of the communication, available online. Questions about the budget reduction process, which is ongoing, can be sent to the budget office.

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