WSU Budget Balancing Cuts Operating Funds, Eliminates Vacant Positions

PULLMAN, Wash. — Washington State University is balancing its budget for next fiscal year through a combination of cuts in operating funds and elimination of positions, most of which are now vacant.
WSU units on the Pullman campus are cutting $2.9 million for the budget year that starts July 1 to bring its permanent base level or PBL funding into balance. Additional commitments and budget reallocations bring the total budget rebalancing figure to $4.17 million, according to Karl Boehmke, WSU budget director.
The plans from the main divisions of the university show a projected loss of 45 positions, almost all of which are now vacant, he indicated. WSU President Samuel Smith recently approved the plans.
Under the budget plans, a small number of currently filled positions, none faculty, will be either eliminated or reduced from full-time to part-time, effective July 1. In this category are 2.5 positions in the administrative/professional staff and 1.5 positions among the classified staff. Classified personnel have “bumping rights,” allowing them to move to a similar position elsewhere in the university held by an individual with less seniority.
“WSU has made every effort to handle our response to the budget shortfall with the least impact on jobs of current employees,” Boehmke said. “I believe that shows in the very small number of layoffs projected in the plans.”
The breakdown in total eliminated positions, both vacant and filled, shows 25 faculty positions, 4.5 administrative/professional positions, 14.3 classified positions and 1 graduate student position to be eliminated over the next 18 months.
“The university is bringing its operating budget into line with its income sources,” Boehmke said. “It is essential for WSU to be a good steward of its resources and to use the best business practices at all times.
“As I noted recently, the change in the mix of our student body, with fewer out-of-state students, has reduced the tuition income significantly,” the budget director said. “If the mix had remained the same as our freshman class grew this past fall, we would have collected $1.8 million more this year than last year.”
He added that WSU is solving this year’s budget shortfall by using one-time funds such as equipment replacement money to close the gap.
“We simply cannot do that several years in a row,” Boehmke said. “While this budget reallocation is difficult, it will put the WSU budget on a solid base.”
Boehmke said the university will see new resources as enrollment grows in coming years. Growth in private support and research funding will also be very important.
“WSU has requested additional enrollment funding for the second year of the 1999-2001 biennium for the Pullman campus, and the upward trend in student applications that we have seen in the past 12 months gives us every reason to be optimistic,” Boehmke said.