Friday, November 19, 2010
With the HECB in Vancouver for its November meeting, the city’s daily newspaper had a good chance to look closely at the important budget decisions made at the meeting. An editorial in The Columbian later said the higher education budget proposal adopted by the Board, which is aimed at creating greater stability in funding for public colleges and universities, was “highly reasonable.”
Among other things, the editorial pointed out the importance of higher education to the state’s economic future. While the state’s great job providers traditionally have been larger employers such as Microsoft and Boeing, today “the path to economic recovery is traveled mostly by small or medium-sized companies that are more dependent on local work forces and, thus, local and state education levels,” the editorial said.
Posted by HECB Washington at 12:29 PM
Thursday, November 18, 2010
Public higher education institutions have reported staff layoffs, reduced work hours and other measures to respond to state budget cuts over the past three years. For example, during FY 2010 and FY 2011, budget reductions at Western Washington University affected 202 university positions through layoffs, unfilled vacancies, and early retirements. Impacts on students include larger class sizes, reduced support services, and fewer academic options.
In light of these developments, it may have surprised some to see a news report this week that higher education and the K-12 system accounted for most of the state job growth in October. According to the state Employment Security Department (ESD), nearly all of the 4,000 government-sector jobs created last month were either in higher education or K-12. Over the same period, the non-farm private sector accounted for only 1,900 new jobs statewide.
However, a closer look at the ESD’s Employment Situation Report for October helps explain the apparent inconsistency.
The report points out that the gains in education jobs reported in October reverse strong job losses in September for both state and local education, and that “much of this volatility is due to reporting patterns and how it affects the seasonal adjustment process.” Looking over a longer, three-month period, state supported higher education actually cut about 900 jobs statewide, while an additional 400 were lost in K-12 education, according to the report.
Posted by HECB Washington at 12:16 PM
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
OLYMPIA—Calling it a “survival budget,” the Washington Higher Education Coordinating Board (HECB) on Tuesday unanimously and reluctantly recommended the state appropriate enough money to allow its two- and four-year colleges and universities to carry on at the same funding level they are now receiving.
The proposed budget recognizes the limited amount of state funding available to address a wide range of urgent statewide needs in the next biennium. In addition to stabilizing base budgets, the proposal recommends a small increase in funding to provide financial aid for about a quarter of 22,000 needy students not being served.
“We are painfully aware this budget proposal is not what is needed,” said Charley Bingham, who heads the HECB’s fiscal committee. “It does not meet the human and economic needs of this state, by far. Our colleges and universities are already doing more with less, and further cuts would be a disaster to this state’s economy and quality of life.”
The recommended $3.34 billion budget represents a 10 percent share of the State General Fund. In past budget cycles, higher education’s share of the General Fund has averaged 12 percent.
Although the proposed budget would provide some fiscal stability for higher education, which has suffered cuts averaging more than 30 percent in the last three years, it is not enough to repair the damage caused by those cuts. At best, it simply allows higher education to maintain current service levels, said Don Bennett, executive director of the HECB.
“It does not fund enrollment growth at a time of record student demand and it essentially fails to make the gains necessary to address the rapidly rising need for a more educated workforce in Washington,” Bennett said.
“It’s important to note that the 2009-11 budget reduced state support for instruction below the 50 percent level at most four-year institutions. This was a huge cut. For many years state support had averaged 65 percent of instructional costs.”
Examples of the impact of recent budget cuts:
· 2,741 state funded enrollment slots eliminated
· State funding for each full-time college student reduced by 14 percent
· Only 77 percent of enrolled students who are eligible for state financial aid are now receiving assistance, compared to 98 percent in 2009
· 22,000 students who qualified for a State Need Grant will not receive one this year
· State Work Study funding cut by a third.
Board members warned that further cuts to higher education in the 2011-13 budget cycle would imperil the economic future of the state and its citizens. Some of the four-year institutions have said they will not be able to maintain current enrollment levels if they are forced to accept further cuts.
“We all know we have a crisis and a looming disaster if we don’t do something out of the ordinary this legislative session,” said Jesus Hernandez, board chair.
Posted by HECB Washington at 4:06 PM
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
OLYMPIA—Final action recommending proposed 2011-13 higher education operating and capital budgets is expected when the Higher Education Coordinating Board (HECB) meets at Washington State University Vancouver, November 15-16, 2010.
The HECB, the baccalaureate institutions, the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC), and the Office of Financial Management (OFM) have been working on the proposals since last summer. The proposals reflect the awareness that a funding gap will continue to exist in 2011-13. However, they also assert the need for the state to re-establish a stable funding floor for higher education.
Higher education, in particular, has felt the consequences the recession in the last three years. For example:
· 2,741 state funded enrollment slots have been cut since 2009.
· State funding for each full-time college student has been reduced by 14 percent since 2009.
· Only 77 percent of enrolled students who are eligible for state financial aid are now receiving assistance, compared to 98 percent in 2009.
· State bond funding capacity for the entire 2011-13 capital budget has decreased by over 40 percent in the last six months.
“Further cuts to our public higher education system will prevent tens of thousands of students from pursuing their dream of earning a college degree at a time when we urgently need to be increasing the number of students we are serving,” said Don Bennett, HECB executive director.
After Board action, the budget recommendations will be sent to OFM, the Legislature, and the Governor’s Office for consideration in future action. The Governor’s 2011-13 biennial budget document will be released in mid-December.
The November Board meeting also will include Board action on a new degree program at Eastern Washington University, a BS in Health Informatics, Technology and Management; and approval of a proposed modification to the HECB’s College Admission Standards.
Also on the agenda are presentations from HECB staff on a new white paper covering projected job growth in occupations requiring postsecondary education, on Applied Baccalaureate Selection Process and Criteria; and an update on the College Bound Scholarship program.
Briefing materials for the meeting are available at: www.hecb.wa.gov/boardmtgs/index.asp
Posted by HECB Washington at 1:21 PM
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
The Guaranteed Education Tuition Program (GET) is administered by the Higher Education Coordinating Board to help families save for college. In this welcome video, GET Director Betty Lochner says saving money now through the GET program can result in sizable future savings and reduce a student's need for borrowing. To learn more, go to the GET website, http://www.get.wa.gov/.
Posted by HECB Washington at 1:13 PM