University leaders Monday described the Senate budget proposal as "nasty" and "brutal" and "shocking." They also made clear there's going to be a fight — over tuition.

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University leaders described the state Senate’s budget proposal as “nasty” and “brutal” and “shocking.”

They also made clear there’s going to be a fight — over tuition. The proposal would hold tuition increases at 7 percent. But university leaders say they need to increase tuition by much more to offset some of the pain.

The Senate’s plan would cut state funding of universities and community colleges by $513 million over two years. That’s after including an estimated $100 million in one-time federal stimulus money. The Senate estimates that the cuts would reduce the number of full-time students by more than 10,000 and result in 2,500 job losses.

Universities would take the bigger share of the cuts. The Senate says tuition increases would reduce the actual cut to about 11 percent at universities and 7 percent at two-year colleges, and that now is not the time for sharper tuition spikes.

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University of Washington President Mark Emmert, however, said lawmakers appear to be overestimating the amount of money a 7 percent tuition increase would generate. He said the cuts would result in more than 1,000 fewer jobs at UW.

“This is a very nasty budget,” Emmert said. “Sadly, it’s come at a time when there is peak demand at colleges and universities.”

Emmert said UW would prefer to mitigate some cuts by increasing tuition 14 percent.

Washington State University President Elson Floyd said the cuts would force it to enroll 200 or 300 fewer students in the fall and probably eliminate spring enrollment altogether.

“This budget is brutal,” Floyd said. “It will deny access in ways in which I’m not convinced our state will fully recover.”

Community-college leaders appeared more willing to accept the proposal. At this point, they are not seeking additional tuition increases.

Nick Perry: 206-515-5639 or

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