Since budgets were proposed by the Washington state House Democrats and Senate Republicans, the finalization process has begun but some are concerned about the legislature’s idleness.
“Rather than negotiating the budget, they’re being briefed, so not actually making compromises and changes,” said Genesee Adkins, the UW director of state relations. “Because there’s a very, very high level of disagreement over both revenue and spending.”
The longer the legislature takes to decide on a budget, the less time the UW has to prepare. Without an operating budget, the UW can’t realistically decide how the university is going to function or know what money it can spend, according to Austin Wright-Pettibone, director of ASUW’s Office of Government Relations.
“I think that we all want to see them come to an agreement in the near future,” Wright-Pettibone said. “But I’d rather have them have a thorough understanding of what they’re deciding to spend their money on than haphazardly rushing through to make a decision.”
The legislature is currently in a 30-day special session which ends in two weeks. If the legislature doesn’t reach a decision by May 28, Gov. Jay Inslee can call them back for yet another special session.
Should it come to that, a final budget decision may not be reached until approximately June 28, which is right before the July 1 fiscal year begins for the UW, and when summer quarter begins.
The legislature was in a similar position two years ago when they reached a decision just 48 hours before a government shutdown. A shutdown would mean that, due to a missing budget, nonessential government offices would be closed.
On top of the timeliness concerns, some members of the UW community worry about the specifics inside each proposed budget.
Recently, the Senate proposed a 25 percent tuition reduction, lowering tuition to about $9,300, while the House proposed a tuition freeze.
Interim President Ana Mari Cauce brought to light some other budget discrepancies in a recent email to UW students.
While the House of Representatives budget provides $4.7 million per year for the expansion of the UW’s four-year medical school in Spokane, the Senate budget provides the school only a $1.25 million per year in comparison.
“Put simply, if the Senate budget is adopted, our medical school in Spokane is in serious jeopardy,” Cauce said in the email. “We will be forced to reduce our Washington student class size or transfer some students back to the Seattle campus for first and second year training.”