The Legislature passed a state budget May 25 that cuts $4.6 billion. It’s a horrible budget that whacks educator pay, eliminates jobs and increases class sizes. Cuts to K-12 and higher education total $2.5 billion over the next two years. Students, WEA members and their families will be hurt by this budget.

These cuts now become a local issue for education associations and school boards. Voters, legislators, parents and the media need to know how these cuts hurt students and families in their communities. Bargainers across the state will have to negotiate the specific impact of these cuts on WEA members at the local level. It’s not going to be easy. Download the legislatively adopted budget here.

The Legislature addresses the $5.1 billion shortfall in 2011-13 through $4.6 billion in spending reductions, $458 million in fund transfers, the assumption of $57 million in new revenue (which really is another fund transfer),  and the remainder through $200 million in unanticipated revenue from a tax amnesty program.   However the Legislative budget also includes about $23 million in new tax loopholes.  To resolve the remaining current year (2009-11) budget issue, this adopted budget mimics the earlier proposals in shifting $128 million of the June apportionment payment to school districts from June (when it is due) to July (when it will be in the next budget period).


The maintenance funding level (the amount needed to pay for the statutory level of service) for K-12 in 2011-13 is determined to be $15.6 billion.  The net reduction proposed by the Legislature totals about $1.9 billion resulting in planned expenditures of nearly $13.7 billion for the ensuing two-year period.  This amount also includes spending of $128 million in 2011-13 for the remainder of the June apportionment payment due in the current budget period.  This reduced funding level comes on top of the nearly $2 billion in reduced funding that has already happened in the current two-year (2001-11) budget period  (which doesn't include the $128 million payment shift). 

In one important “no change” from the current budget, the legislatively adopted budget fully funds the state’s obligation for Levy Equalization payments, which also then continues the legislative policy to allow the additional 4% supplemental local levies that it granted in the 2010 session.  Despite the significant amount of proposed cuts, the Legislature also provides some additional new funding for K-12 education.

Budget Additions

Budget Reductions


Higher Education:

Like the prior two proposals, the Legislative budget continues the state's march towards fully funding its higher education institutions through student tuition revenue.  Overall, the Legislative budget reduces funding for the state's higher education institutions $535.5 million.  However, the Legislative budget reduces funding and increases tuition differentially, using a method that "recognizes the unique missions and student populations of the state's two- and four-year institutions."  The budget allows the state's two research institutions and Western Washington University to raise tuition 16% each year of the biennium.  The remaining four-year regional institutions are granted authority to increase tuition by 14% in each year at Central Washington University and The Evergreen State College, by 11% each year at Eastern Washington University and the state's two-year community and technical colleges are presumed to increase tuition by 12% each year.   As a result of this change, the major new funding in higher education is to "hold harmless" the students who depend on the state Need Grant funding, which is increased over $124 million for the next two year period.

Student enrollment levels are largely held at their current levels, but state funding for each  four-year regional institution is reduced between 27 and 31%.  Funding for the two-year colleges is reduced over 17%.  These amounts are assumed to be somewhat recaptured by the increased tuition authority.  In addition, the 4.2% reduction the institutions faced in the current year budget reductions will carry forward as an additional reduction in the new biennium.


$$ in thousands 2011-13 2011-13 2011-13 2011-13 2011-13

State New Net

Maintenance State Funding Tuition Funding
Institution Level Cuts Level Revenue Change
































The institutions will also be expected to use local funds to provide their contractually required faculty pension contributions above 6% of pay resulting in different levels of funding reductions at each institution depending on the age of their faculty.  Finally, institutions are assumed to temporarily reduce salary levels by 3 percent for the two-year period.  For classified workers, this is to be achieved through furlough days and etc.  For faculty members, the assumed reduction in funding does not necessarily have to result in specifically reduced rates of pay, just an overall lowering of salary costs at each institution.  Community and Technical College faculty will be able to continue their use of turnover savings to provide salary increments and four-year faculty will be enabled to provide salary increases from other than state sources.

Higher education health benefit funding remains unchanged from the current biennium at $850 per member per month.  This means that the premiums paid by employees will increase to cover the anticipated rates of medical inflation.  As such, the average higher education employee will pay 15% of their overall premium amount as their share of the cost as opposed to the current 12%.

The Legislative budget does provide an additional $124.4 million for the State Need Grant and Work Study programs to offset the increased cost of resident undergraduate tuition.  The budget also provides $9 million new funding to the Community and Technical Colleges for an additional 970 worker retraining slots each year.

Read more commentary from Lake Washington Education Association.