Prospective StudentsCurrent StudentsBusinessesCommunityDistanceA to Z Index
TSS Today
News Home Search
* Legislature gives budget breathing room

When Saturdays’ special-session gavel came down in Olympia, Shoreline Community College breathed just a little easier – for now.

“We’re still taking a budget cut this year, but it is far less than it could’ve been,” Shoreline President Lee Lambert said late Saturday, Dec. 11, 2010. “At 3.8 percent, the bills passed by the Legislature honor the federal maintenance-of-effort level.

“This gives us some breathing room, until June 30.”

Lambert said that barring unforeseen changes, announced layoffs and at least some of the other planned budget-reduction strategies are on hold for the balance of this fiscal year, which ends June 30, 2011.

“All fall, the news kept getting worse. We’d been told by the Governor and the State Board (for Community and Technical Colleges) to plan for cuts that added up to a 10.9 percent reduction,” Lambert said. The maintenance-of-effort (MOE) clause, which is tied to the state’s acceptance of federal stimulus money, was always in place, but colleges were advised to not count on it, he said.

“It’s hard to say that a 3.8 percent cut half way through the year is good news, but given the alternatives, we’ll take it,” Lambert said.

According to State Board officials, the overall cut to higher education will be $51 million with $26.7 million of that falling to community and technical colleges. The exact amount of Shoreline’s share should be known in the coming week. Another budgetary sleight of hand, Gov. Gregoire’s idea proposed on Nov. 23 to ask colleges to cover State Need Grant payments for the rest of this year, is not in the bills passed Saturday.

The Legislature’s efforts fill only $588 million of the $1.1 billion current-year shortfall with Gov. Chris Gregoire taking care of the rest. Details are expected from Gregoire next week, but state officials don’t expect any surprises in the form of additional cuts to higher education.

The next step for Shoreline, Lambert said, is to decide just what will be cut to hit the 3.8 percent target. “Obviously, we’ve done a lot of planning for much deeper cuts. Now, we have to decide which pieces will be used,” he said. “I’ll ask the vice presidents this week for recommendations.”

Lambert reminded that Saturday’s news is just a postponement of what are still seen as deep and devastating cuts to come. Gov. Gregoire is also expected next week to release her proposals for the 2011-13 operating and capital budgets. That plan will have to deal with a projected $5.7 billion shortfall. State Board officials have already warned colleges that budget cuts for that cycle could hit 18 percent

“We don’t know yet what’s in store for the next biennium, but it doesn’t look good,” Lambert said. “If it is as bad as they say, we’ll be right back here, looking at significant layoffs and serving fewer students.”

SCC/Jim Hills

Comments are locked for this post.