Washington’s public colleges and universities are bracing for a big budget cut, reported The Seattle Times.
Earlier in May, state budget director David Schumacher asked many state agencies how they might cut 15% of their state budget appropriations. K-12 funding is mandated by the state constitution and therefore protected from budget cuts, but higher education isn’t.
This spells bad news for public higher education, which has already been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. As it is, too few in the state earn degrees or credentials after high school, especially students from low-income, first-generation and minority backgrounds.
“I’m a little worried people don’t understand quite how bad this is going to be,” said Western Washington University English professor Bill Lyne, president of United Faculty of Washington State, a faculty union for four Washington public higher education institutions.
University of Washington (UW) president Ana Mari Cauce said at a university regents meeting this month that a budget cut would be “devastating” if it happened.
“Universities will be front and center at building the kinds of innovations across our industries that will lead us to recovery,” she said.
State flagship UW said its hospital is expected to lose $500 million through September. On Monday, it said it would furlough 1,500 workers.