WSU Says Operating Budget Proposal Damages Research Universities; Capital Budget is Encouraging

PULLMAN, Wash. — Washington State University officials are disappointed with the executive budget proposal submitted today in Olympia. Although the capital budget funds many of the university’s priorities, the operating budget reduces funding for existing WSU programs by nearly $4.7 million over the next biennium.

If approved by the legislature, the proposal would severely damage the state’s research universities, said WSU President V. Lane Rawlins. “This operating budget would be very harmful to the quality of the research institutions that are critical to maintaining a competitive position for the state of Washington.”

The budget does little to improve lagging faculty salaries. WSU has proposed faculty salary increases of 10 percent in the coming biennium. The executive budget calls for only 4.7 percent.

WSU faculty salaries lag behind peer institutions by 16.4 percent. The average salary at WSU ranks 22nd out of 23 peer institutions.

“Faculty salary increases are our top priority,” said Rawlins. “We need to be able to attract and retain top quality faculty if we expect to remain competitive with other states, which are putting massive resources into higher education.”

Rawlins said the lack of salary support and overall cuts would force the state’s institutions to pare back from what is already a “bare bones” level. He is hopeful that the budget will improve once the governor and the legislators see it and understand the serious impact it will have on research universities and the outlook for future prosperity in the state.

Rawlins said he is pleased with the efforts made by the governor and the Office of Financial Management to meet WSU priorities in the capital budget. “This allows WSU to continue capital planning and to maintain what is one of the finest campuses for an institution of this size in the country.”

The capital budget funds much of the replacement cost for the university’s aging power plant, renovation of Murrow Hall, an addition to Johnson Hall, and a new Shock Physics building. It also funds a new media and electronic communications classroom building at the WSU Vancouver campus. The budget did not fund a request for an addition to the College of Education building in Pullman.