UW panel denounces cuts

May 11, 2009

SEATTLE--Members of three campus unions, five student groups and the American Association of University Professors came together on April 28 at a meeting to denounce the budget cuts being imposed on the University of Washington (UW) and the state of Washington.

Organized by the Anti-Budget Cuts Coalition, the panel was part of a campaign that will include petitioning, picketing and additional pressure at the Board of Regents meetings.

The state of Washington faced a $9 billion shortfall to fully fund its current programs. The Democratic-controlled legislature slashed $4 billion from education and social services, including $200 million from UW---and imposed no new taxes on corporations or the wealthy. It also raised tuition by 14 percent each of the next two years on undergraduate residents and allowed the UW Board of Regents to raise tuition on graduate students and non-residents without limit.

These cuts are part of a general attack on the people of Washington. Teachers won't get cost-of-living increases (COLAs) and class sizes won't be reduced, in spite of the fact that voters approved initiatives to provide COLAs and lower class sizes.

Some 40,000 of the poorest in Washington will be kicked off the Basic Health Plan---increasing the number of uninsured. State employees won't get their scheduled 2.25 percent raise in July, and 10,000 will be laid off.

So far, the UW administration is attempting to pass the cuts on to the students, faculty and staff. Thousands of new students won't be able to attend. Hundreds of classes will be canceled. A thousand UW staff will be laid off. Teaching assistants will lose their jobs.

Night custodians are being forced to work during the day to save on their shift differentials, even though their lives will be seriously disrupted. Outrageously, at a supposedly high-quality research institution, the libraries will be closed nights and weekends.

The coalition is targeting both the state government and the UW administration. The state could institute a progressive tax system instead of keeping one of the most regressive tax structures in the U.S--the poorest section of the population pays 18 percent of its income in taxes while the richest pay just 3 percent.

For its part, the UW administration could eliminate top administrative positions or cut their salaries and has a $1.7 billion endowment it could tap. UW President Mark Emmert makes a salary of nearly $1 million a year, plus a free mansion, cook, gardener and car allowance.

The coalition scheduled a protest at the administration building on May 5 and plans to go to every Board of Regents meeting to demand that the students, faculty and staff have a say over UW finances, and to push for alternatives to the cuts and tuition increases.

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