Statement from WSU President Elson S. Floyd on the House Budget Proposal - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Statement from WSU President Elson S. Floyd on the House Budget Proposal

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Hard as it is to imagine, today's House budget is even more draconian, with a more devastating impact, than the Senate budget proposed yesterday. Words are inadequate to describe the havoc this will wreak.

Either the House or the Senate budget is expected to lead to hundreds of enrollment reductions and substantial layoffs at the university. But the House cut is far deeper. The net cut to WSU programs is approximately 50 percent greater than the Senate budget. This slashes $151.4 million, or

29 percent, out of our budget. In general terms, the net cut to WSU programs in the House budget is 50 percent greater than the Senate version and three times as great as the governor's.

The extraordinary budget cuts to higher education under discussion this week will deeply impact the very people who will create a recovery for the state of Washington in the coming years - the college educated.

Limiting access to a public college education is simply counterintuitive. This is one of the worst higher education budgets in the nation. This does not bode well for the future competitiveness of our state. We will depend upon our colleges and universities, especially our research universities, to generate the ideas, the technologies and the manpower to lead us Washington out of this mess. Tying our hands is short-sighted, to say the least.

Under both legislative scenarios, WSU will be forced to make dramatic cuts from which we will not recover for many years. We will be forced to eliminate at least 400 to 500 positions through both layoffs and unfilled vacancies. And we will be required to reduce enrollment by 1,500 students - at a time when the demand for a public education is at its peak.

We are very concerned about access and affordability. While we do not want to balance our budgets on the backs of our students, the cuts are so deep that very significant tuition increases, for at least the next two years will be unavoidable under the current scenarios.

While WSU will do everything in our power to protect the quality of the academic experience for our students, there is no doubt that this level of cut will have a negative impact on our academic programs and faculty.

Not only will this threaten the overall academic experience, it is very likely that it will take longer for our students to graduate, forcing

them to incur an even greater financial burden.

We call upon the Legislature and the governor to find ways to make a greater investment in higher education and direct a higher level of state appropriations in the one thing that holds the highest hope for the future of this state - a well-educated populace. It is time to re-evaluate our priorities.

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