SEATTLE – The economy may be slowing down, but the number of Washington students preparing to go to college will continue to be strong, according to the state’s four-year universities, which are preparing to ask the Legislature for more dollars to keep growing in the next biennium.
The University of Washington regents will vote Thursday on a proposed $119.9 million increase in the dollars needed to run the university between 2009 and 2011, a jump of 15 percent over the money provided by the Legislature during the 2007-’09 biennium.
The state’s other four-year universities have approved proportionally similar increases in their budget requests or will be doing so in the next few months, university officials said Tuesday.
Meanwhile the latest information from the state Economic and Revenue Forecast Council calls for a significant decrease in tax collections over the next few years and what some state officials are saying could be the worst downturn in the past 25 years.
The state’s four-year universities are scheduled to make budget presentations at the Higher Education Coordinating Board meeting next Monday in Olympia. In addition to asking for more money from the Legislature, colleges across the state have also raised tuition.
In the proposed UW budget, some of the bigger ticket items include $60 million for an average of 5 percent raises for faculty and staff in both fiscal years; more than $30 million to make room for more students, especially in high demand fields like health care; and more than $14 million toward research.
The university’s proposed capital projects request totals more than $281 million for the biennium, including $57.5 million for the first phase of construction of a molecular engineering building, $52 million to restore Denny Hall, $42.8 million to restore Balmer Hall and $54 million for construction on the Tacoma campus.
The Washington State University regents in May approved a state budget request that would include 5 percent increases for faculty and staff in both years of the biennium; an $18 million campus computer upgrade; and $5 million for a new School of Global Animal Health. WSU has not finalized its plans for enrollment.
WSU’s capital projects request would include $7.4 million for the first stages of building a facility for the new veterinary program; more than $38 million for a new location for applied technology classes; and $15 million to renovate a biotechnology/life sciences building.
Western Washington University’s board will vote on its budget at its August meeting, so Sherry Burkey, director of government relations, didn’t want to offer many specifics about the university’s proposal.
Burkey said Western would be asking for money to start buying land for its new waterfront campus. The university also hopes to make room for more students on its current campus and wants to start a new program aimed at filling the demand for science and math teachers.
The Western budget request won’t include salary figures until university officials start meeting with the new faculty union this fall.
Central Washington University plans to ask for money for two years of salary increases and more enrollment slots for students, and needs help paying for increasing health care and utility costs. The university also wants to build a research center that would focus on renewable energy.
In its capital budget, Central will request $47 million for renovating and adding on to Hogue Hall.
The Evergreen State College plans to ask the Legislature for $6.6 million for faculty and staff pay raises and $2.6 million for student recruitment and retention, as well as increases in the number of students it can accept.
In its capital budget, Evergreen plans to ask for $12.5 million to renovate its communications building, $4.9 million to modernize its art building and about $2 million for safety and building code improvements.
Eastern Washington University set its biennium budget in June, including an $11 million pool for salary increases, $3 million for student retention, $800,000 for campus security and $1.3 million for a new campus security camera system.
Eastern is hoping to get some capital dollars for starting a major overhaul of the university’s main instructional building, Patterson Hall.