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Online resources for units preparing budget reduction plans

Answers to common questions concerning the recently announced budget reduction planning exercise as well as a sample template are now available.

The online resources are designed to help units across the WSU system develop the plans announced last Tuesday by President Kirk Schulz calling for how they would reduce spending by 10% in the coming fiscal year. The announcement followed a call for all state agencies to identity ways to reduce their operating budgets in anticipation of a significant reduction in state revenues due to the COVID‑19 pandemic.

All WSU areas must provide scenarios for addressing a 10% reduction in fiscal year 2021 core fund base budgets without using carryforward balances. During this process, WSU’s budget office will also work to identify other opportunities for reductions, with both exercises being considered and approved by university leadership.

Instructions for the budget planning exercise can be found online. Answers to more than two dozen relevant questions are also available, as is a sample template.

Among the questions answered in the FAQ is one about the difference between the state’s request for agencies to prepare for a 15% reduction in appropriations, and WSU’s request that all units prepare for a 10% reduction. WSU is funded through a combination of state financial support and tuition revenue. While state agencies have been asked to model a 15% reduction in state support, the actual bottom line impact on WSU is about a 10% reduction in operating revenue because tuition dollar help cover the cost of instruction.

Units should use a combination of temporary and permanent reductions in their plans, and cannot include salary reductions on their templates in order to meet the 10% target. The template is ordered from highest priority cut to lowest, and units are asked not to modify the format to ensure easy compilation.

Institutional funding provided through the CARES Act will be used up by lost revenues and expenditures already incurred by WSU in responding to COVID‑19. While additional state and federal dollars may be available, they should not be considered in these plans.

WSU has already taken numerous steps in an effort to blunt the financial impact of COVID‑19. This includes salary and hiring freezes as well as requests that areas reduce discretionary spending. Exemptions can be found in the FAQ. A number of highly compensated WSU employees have also voluntarily taken pay cuts in response to the public health crisis.

The core principles for fiscal decision-making outlined by Schulz include prioritizing core and mission critical activities to support high‑quality academic delivery and student success functions, as well as the effort to sustain as many WSU jobs as possible.

More information on the budget reduction planning exercise can be found on the Budget Office’s website.