Late last week Evergreen along with other state agencies and higher education institutions submitted the College’s 2015-17 biennial operating and capital budgets to the Office of Financial Management (OFM). OFM anticipates the arrival of 165 agency budget requests for consideration in the development of the Governor’s biennial budget proposal due in December.
Evergreen’s operating budget seeks to build on the state’s leadership over the last biennium to support the first investment above maintenance level funding since the beginning of the Great Recession. Evergreen experienced an increase in state funding of 5.2% in the 2013-15 biennium. The investment by the state reduced the financial burden on students and families. Even with the enacted biennial budget, however state funds and tuition remain far below the level of support received prior to the Great Recession.
Within this context Evergreen’s operating budget builds on the 2013-15 biennial budget as a first step in a multi-biennial approach to stabilize funding for students, faculty and staff by supporting higher education. Evergreen is asking the state to maintain the support and investment the College received in the prior biennium. The request focuses on the need to support critical infrastructure for the College including market-rate compensation and maintenance operations. In addition the request asks for additional support to ensure that current programs and serves are maintained at a level that recognizes student and state demands.
In particular the request proposes building on Evergreen’s quality STEM undergraduate programs, especially in the area of computer science and current efforts to reach out to underrepresented student populations with a focus on Latina/o students.
Finally, in accordance with OFM instructions, the College submitted a 15% budget reduction, which would more than reverse the gains made in higher education in recent years and dramatically impact Evergreen’s strong performance. After years of budget reductions the college would have very few options for absorbing a cut of this magnitude. At the same time further tuition increases are likely to suppress student demand especially given Evergreen’s commitment to serve low-income students. To meet this level of reduction Evergreen would make reductions at the expense of current access to higher education.
Evergreen’s biennial capital budget is consistent with prior submissions and continues to tightly integrate operating and capital budgets. The request focuses on preservation of the College’s facilities and infrastructure. The request emphasizes the construction of the Lecture Hall Renovation as Evergreen’s top priority. In addition the request includes funding for the Science Lab I basement construction and Seminar I Renovation predesign and design. The request also asks for authorization to enter into a Certificate of Participation through the Office of the State Treasurer for $12.5 million for the purchase of a permanent site for the Tacoma program. Finally the request includes funds for minor works and facilities preservation.