Budget Update, June 26

Dear Colleagues, 

On June 12, the Board of Trustees approved our FY21 continuation budget and our process, principles, and parameters for preparing a final budget for approval in October. As part of that process, we identified scenarios based on potential state and tuition revenue reductions and mitigation strategies to help offset those losses, leading to a 10 percent budget reduction planning target. Divisions are now developing prioritized options to meet that target, which will inform our final approach as a university in the fall.

Last week the State furloughed employees in state agencies to address the State revenue shortfalls. We indicated that we would review in the context of our planning process and provide more information this week.  As you may know, Western has developed a budget process for a final FY21 state operating budget that recognizes our commitment to shared governance, communication, and engagement.  Western will continue with the budget process as developed and discussed broadly, utilizing the principles already established. While that process may ultimately identify furloughs as part of an overall plan to address State budget shortfalls, at this time we are not implementing mandatory or across-the-board furloughs for state-funded employees. Auxiliary and self-sustaining areas are also proceeding with planning and evaluation of budget options with an eye towards the most strategic approach for our varied operations.

The major revenue factors for Western's budget are state appropriations and tuition revenue. Last week, the state released its revenue forecast, projecting an $8.8 billion revenue loss through 2024. We'll be watching for action out of the legislature during a special session in the coming months to understand exactly how this will translate to action on the state budget. With the first week of registration for Fall quarter underway, our understanding of the pandemic's impact on enrollment will improve weekly.

Looking ahead into the next biennium, decision packages are due to the state in mid September. All agencies, including higher education, have been instructed to include a 15 percent reduction proposal for FY 2022-23 as part of our submissions. Western's proposal will remain at a high level, leaving room for robust planning and decision making in keeping with our commitment to shared governance. In addition, we are considering including a request for investment to address programmatic priorities in access and achievement. More detail is available in the packages reviewed by the university community, University Planning and Resource Council, and the Trustees, which would form the basis of a final package.

As we have additional information to share, we'll do so through these emails and through conversations with stakeholders across the university. Please continue to share your thinking and questions through your representative on the Consultation Group, the Budget Forum, or by emailing bfp@wwu.edu

Thank you for your engagement and your service,

Rich Van Den Hul, Vice President for Business and Financial Affairs

Faye Gallant, Executive Director of Budget and Financial Planning

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Friday, June 26, 2020 - 2:14pm

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