Faculty Senate discuss financial effects of COVID-19

WSU projected $9 million deficit, received about $39 million budget cut

WSU+received+a+%2439+million+budget+cut+because+of+the+pandemic%2C+said+Colleen+Kerr%2C+vice+president+of+external+affairs+and+government+relations+and+chief+legislative+officer+for+WSU.%C2%A0

MATT ESTABROOK | DAILY EVERGREEN FILE

WSU received a $39 million budget cut because of the pandemic, said Colleen Kerr, vice president of external affairs and government relations and chief legislative officer for WSU. 

JENAE LAXSON, Evergreen reporter

WSU Faculty Senate members discussed Washington’s new salary threshold, which can exempt some employees from receiving overtime pay, during a meeting Thursday. 

Lisa Gehring, WSU assistant vice president of human resources, said a new Labor and Industries salary threshold will take effect Jan. 1, 2021. It will change the federal and state government regulations that control which positions are eligible for overtime compensation.

The new salary threshold exempts people from being paid overtime if they make over $42,712 a year. The changes will negatively impact WSU research because grant funds will be depleted faster if postdoctoral salaries are raised, she said. 

When COVID-19 first impacted the country, it was estimated there would be a $9 million deficit in the state budget for higher education, said Colleen Kerr, vice president of external affairs and government relations and chief legislative officer for WSU. 

“We ended up taking about a $39 million cut from the governor through the legislative directive,” she said. “We do not have final numbers on that yet.”

Kerr said her office will be putting more energy into demonstrating the value of higher education by talking to stakeholders and creating public affairs campaigns. 

Her office will also be focusing on disaster relief because its funding helped with unforeseen expenses, she said. More effort will be put into identifying the aspects of these costs.

“It has been very student-focused so far, which is appropriate,” she said. “We’ve had the rug pulled out from under our students, but we also recognize that there are institutional impacts.”