UW spared more budget cuts, but tuition may rise

Lawmakers spared the University of Washington from budget cuts in the session that concluded in March, but pruning time may come again next year, depending on a court test of the spending-limit initiative, I-601.

“We feel fairly good about where we ended up,” says UW Government Relations Director Bob Edie. At the beginning of the session, the UW faced Gov. Mike Lowry’s plan to trim research universities by 1.5 percent.

Since the UW already endured a 3.2 percent cut two years ago and a 4.3 percent cut last June, officials feared that more trimming would stunt educational quality.

Instead, there will be no more cuts for the remainder of the 1993-95 budget. The legislature also stated that any future higher education program cuts should be used for salary increases at colleges and universities.

“We think that’s a breakthrough,” says Edie. “If program cuts have to be made in higher education, we can capture those dollars and keep them in higher ed for salary purposes.”

But Government Relations Associate Director Sheral Burkey warns that the November general election will bring a new legislature with different ideas. “There’ll be a lot of pressure to continue to cut,” she says. To cushion any budget blows, Burkey says lawmakers may want to increase tuition.

During the spring session the UW did get one bonus: Lawmakers put $1 million into the UW Distinguished Professorships/ Graduate Fellowships program. State funds will match private donations dollar-for-dollar. The money will fund three professorships and up to 10 fellowships.

Alumni and friends of the UW will be able to show their pride every time they drive, thanks to a new law passed this session. Residents can purchase license plates with a University of Washington design. Out of the $30 fee, $25 will go into student scholarships. The UW expects “Husky” plates to be on sale sometime in 1995.

Hanging over the capitol during the entire session was the threat of I-601’s spending limits, which go into effect July 1, 1995. Even though state revenues are up—current estimates are for $17.8 billion in state coffers for the next two years—the initiative limits spending to an estimated $17.7 billion. The Washington Supreme Court is considering a challenge to I-601 and may make a ruling as early as this summer.

One decision lawmakers could not resolve this spring was the future site of the UW-Bothell branch campus. The legislature and Higher Education Coordinating Board want to put a new community college at the same site as the branch campus, what they call “co-location.” The board favors a site at the intersection of I-405 and State Route 522, known as the Truly Farm site.

Truly Farm has wetlands on its property and no final decision can be made until an Environmental Impact Statement is written and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permits are issued.

Originally UW-Bothell was planned for the Wellington Hills Golf Course, near the intersection of Highways 9 and 522 near Woodinville. Zoning conflicts and co-location changed site priorities.

While the branch’s permanent home remains in limbo, the UW plans to expand its temporary site in the Canyon Creek Business Center.