Budget review reveals WSU total deficit of $30M

WSU is about $30 million in debt, according to a budget update emailed by President Kirk Schulz on Wednesday to all WSU accounts.

In addition to the athletic budget deficit, which is currently about $13 million, WSU units overspent last year’s budget by about $17 million, according to a budget review by Schulz, deans, unit-level finance officers, and other administrators. This was the first time the WSU administration completed a budget review in almost a decade.

Some units were $1 million to $3 million over budget, Schulz wrote, and were told to come up with plans to lower their deficits.

Schulz wrote that none of the spending on new faculty, academic infrastructure or research was wasteful. The current financial management system the university uses is insufficient for helping manage the budget, he wrote.

Schulz wrote WSU needs to fund costly information technology (IT) and financial software improvements. The upgrades will benefit the entire university, he wrote, and will be a priority in future budgets.

The university does not plan to “sweep” unit budgets that had extra money left over, Schulz wrote. Units have been concerned that the university will take extra money back and spread it around, he wrote.

Units that overspent will have to pay back funds to replenish university reserves, Schulz wrote, adding that the university needs to take better care of its reserve funds.

In the past, these funds have been used to support deficit spending, which Schulz wrote will no longer be allowed. He wrote the university will be unable to meet new needs if the reserves are not maintained.

The university also needs to increase revenues by increasing enrollment and modifying tuition waiver programs, Schulz wrote.

“In short, we need to be very mindful of our spending patterns across all units,” he wrote, “and we must end deficit spending across the board as soon as is practically possible.”

Schulz wrote he wishes to be as “transparent as possible” in his budget-making process and will keep the WSU community updated in future letters.