Wash. State higher education bracing for budget cuts - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Wash. State higher education bracing for budget cuts

Authorities in higher education are bracing for massive cuts Authorities in higher education are bracing for massive cuts

CHENEY, Wash. - Three budget proposals have been released, now the hard part:  The Governor, State representatives and Senators will work to create a single budget by the end of Washington's Legislative session on April 30.

Authorities in higher education are bracing for massive cuts. Most institutions say layoffs are inevitable.

"It's tough for all college kids," said EWU sophomore Cory Martin.  "You know, everyone's tending to save a lot more money these days."

Martin is the first in his family to attend college and says he worries about his financial aid during the economic downturn. (Top Right: Uncut interview with Martin in video player)

Authorities at Eastern Washington University says they're bracing to lose approximately 20% of their budget. The House proposal seeks to cut $170 million more than the Senate proposal in higher education.

A statement released by WSU President Elson Floyd says his university could lose as much as 29% or more than $151 million of their budget depending on which budget is finally approved. Student enrollment at WSU would also be cut by 1,500 students under the lawmakers' proposals. The university would be forced to cut at least 400 to 500 jobs under legislative budget plans announced this week.

The governor released her budget proposal December 18th.  The state Senate released their plan Monday and the state House released their plan Tuesday.

Administrators at local universities say no final decisions have been made about how cuts will be made on their campuses.

EWU is planning several hearings to give students the opportunity to voice their opinions: 
 
               - Monday, April 6th, Noon-2pm, EWU Pub
               - Tuesday, April 7th, Riverpoint Campus, 9-11am, Academic Center

Wash. Senate budget proposal unveiled

Senate Democrats would drastically cut education spending and eliminate some tax breaks to balance a $9.3 billion budget deficit.

VIEW: Entire budget propsal
The Senate's budget proposal is being unveiled Monday in Olympia. It lays out a $33.2 billion budget for the 2009-2011 fiscal year. That's about $1 billion less than the last budget. Public schools are taking a big hit, with a cut of about $1.3 billion. That doesn't count the money being saved by skipping teachers' pay raises.

Proposed Cuts

- 8,000 state employees
-10,000 college enrollments
-45,000 people in low-income health insurance
- Close a McNeil Island prison and the Green Hill juvenile prison in Chehalis.
- There would be no salary increases for teachers

Higher education and human services also would be cut, but the Senate also wants to close some tax loopholes, which could set up a conflict with voter-approved tax limits.

Among the loopholes are one for banks selling foreclosed homes, and one for people who buy hybrid cars.

Washington House roll out spending cuts

In the second draft of state budget cuts, House lawmakers want to cut less from K-12 schools, and more from higher education, but they'd also ask college students to pay more tuition.

Tuesday's House budget plan would use a $3 billion influx of federal bailout money, and other one-time fixes to help plug a roughly $9 billion budget deficit through mid-2011.

That's similar to the way Senate Democrats would start filling the shortfall. But the two sides differ on exactly where to cut spending, and how much.

House officials are pushing for a deeper cut in higher education spending, and a bigger tuition increase to soften the blow.

The House also would cut less from K-12 education, and spend more money on state worker benefits.

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