State budget passes, CWU receives funding

Eric Rosane, Staff Reporter

Legislation struck a resolution last Friday night after Washington Governor Jay Inslee signed into proposition the $43.7 billion statewide budget that will go into effect next academic school year to fund CWU’s 2017-2019 operating budget, effectively avoiding a partial statewide government shutdown. This comes just weeks after Vice President of Business and Financial Affairs Joel Klucking wrote a university wide letter to all CWU employees warning of potential layoffs if the budget was indefinitely unresolved after July 1.

“If the state budget is still unresolved on [July 1], many state agencies will not have money to pay employees and will have to lay people off…,” Klucking said. “The varied sources of our budget will enable us to continue to employ people, although not indefinitely, beyond July 1, even if the state legislature has not yet approved a new budget.”

The statewide budget signed into legislation allocates many funds into areas such as K-12 education and expansions in medicaid. Governor Inslee said himself before signing the bill that the bill was “truly historic” with regards to funding K-12 education. This budget will be “fully funding the education of our children for the first time in the state of Washington for over 30 years,” according to Inslee.

The proposed bill also expands medical education at institutions such as Washington State University and University of Washington, allocating roughly $15 million into those university programs.

“The reason I sent that notice out was to basically tell the employees ‘I’m sure you’ve heard on the news; many of you, if you belong to a union, are probably getting something from your union saying that you’re going to be potentially laid off, [but] we have no plans to lay anybody off,” Klucking said. “That’s not an indefinite thing, but at least initially we’re going to keep operations open and use local funds”

Current state budgets constitute roughly one third of the entirety of CWU’s budget. Capital budgets, such as the funds that go into building the renovated Samuelson hall, would not be affected as those funds have been guaranteed payment by the state. With CWU having so much activity this summer session, many were confident that little damage would come to the operations and management of the University.

Vice President of Public Affairs and Secretary to the Board of Trustees Linda Schactler was one of those people. She’s been examining the status of the state budget in Olympia for many months now and was very confident with CWU’s ability to become flexible in hours when funding is uncertain.

“It’s worse if you are the department of labour and industries or the department of ecology where most of your money comes from the state. Then you really can’t support anybody after July 1 because there is no money,” Schactler said.

This isn’t the first time that this has happened either, leading up to the evening of the deadline. Schactler sites many different potential cases for the delay in legislative action, including the prioritized Hirst Water Rights controversy in which the senate is hoping to overturn a supreme court decision on water rights.

“There are just a lot of very difficult, interwoven issues and when we talk about passing a budget, the truth is you also have to pass between 60 and 100 bills to go with it that are necessary to implement the budget,” Schactler said. “We’re really talking about a jigsaw puzzle that has to come together before the budget can pass.”