Thursday, April 12, 2012

Higher education spared further deep budget cuts

After weeks of partisan infighting, the Washington Legislature passed a 2012-13 supplemental budget early Wednesday  characterized by Gov. Chris Gregoire as a budget that preserves “critical programs, including education, and sets our state on a more sustainable path.”
Cuts to the operating budgets of the state’s two- and four-year public colleges and universities ranged from .03 percent to 1.4 percent from the base funding level established in the 2011-13 biennial budget. These cuts are substantially less than those levied against higher education in the previous three years.
Capital appropriations of $1.078 billion were approved for the six four-year universities and the 34 community and technical colleges.
Prior to this session, legislators agreed on a bi-partisan basis not to impose additional deep cuts on education in this supplemental budget year, despite a revenue shortfall of about $500 million. In keeping with this priority, K-12 was cut only 1 percent overall.  On the other hand, Human Services was cut 5.7 percent, and all other state services were cut a total of 2.2 percent.
Funding for the State Need Grant program, Washington’s principal assistance program for needy students, and for the State Work Study program, which helps the state’s low and middle students, was maintained at 2011-13 levels. Read more.