Higher education could be tapped for state budget

KENNEWICK — Community college and university officials have been told to plan for more budget cuts to balance the state’s 2015-17 budget.

The Office of Financial Management is expecting the state to need at least another $1 billion in revenue to meet its needs for the next biennium. Before Gov. Jay Inslee develops his budget proposal, colleges as well as other state agency have been told to make requests that include up to 15 percent reductions, The Tri-City Herald reported.

“We can’t (make cuts) based on efficiencies anymore,” said Marty Brown, executive director for the Washington State Board of Community and Technical Colleges.

Asking for more cuts right after the Legislature started increasing college and university budgets is disheartening for higher education leaders.

Last year, the state provided an additional $3.1 billion to the public universities and community college system, a 12 percent increase compared with the previous biennium.

“The Legislature really moved mountains to invest in higher education and we need to continue down that path,” said Chris Mulick, Washington State University’s director of state relations.

College and university officials say cutting into higher education has the potential to “starve the pipeline of workers,” said Columbia Basin College President Rick Cummins. The college likely would look at cutting out programs or courses as there are few places to cut that won’t directly affect students.

“Taking money from the higher education system just weakens the economy,” he said.

Officials say Washington has one of the best job growth rates in the country, but that hasn’t significantly boosted consumption, so income tax revenue isn’t keeping up.

The colleges and universities, along with the other affected agencies, will be meeting with budget officials in the coming weeks to work out their budget requests.

Next week the state’s next revenue forecast is due to be released. That and another one in the fall will guide the governor in his budget recommendation to the Legislature.

More in Local News

At long last, a church of his own

After years of filling in elsewhere, Hallack Greider is the new pastor at Maplewood Presbyterian.

Judge: Lawmakers’ emails, texts subject to public disclosure

News organizations had sued to challenge the Legislature’s claim that members were exempt.

Herald photos of the week

A weekly collection of The Herald’s top images by staff photographers and… Continue reading

Outgoing councilwoman honored by Marysville Fire District

The Marysville Fire District in December honored outgoing City Councilwoman Donna Wright… Continue reading

Everett district relents on eminent domain moving expenses

Homeowners near Bothell still must be out by April to make way for a planned new high school.

Their grown children died, but state law won’t let them sue

Families are seeking a change in the state’s limiting wrongful-death law.

Officials rule train-pedestrian death an accident

The 37-year-old man was trying to move off the tracks when the train hit him, police say.

Number of flu-related deaths in county continues to grow

Statewide, 86 people have died from the flu, most of whom were 65 or older.

Ex-Monroe cop re-arrested after losing sex crime case appeal

He was sentenced to 14 months in prison but was free while trying to get his conviction overturned.

Most Read