The numbers keep getting bigger and bigger; that much is
Time to Talk
Upcoming budget-related meetings include:
- Brown Bag: Tuesday, Nov. 30, 12:30-2 p.m., Room 1102.
- All-Campus Meeting: Friday, Dec. 10, 12:30-2 p.m., PUB Main
Less certain for Shoreline Community College officials meeting
Monday, Nov. 22, 2010 to discuss the implications of the ever-increasing state
budget shortfall is what reduction number will they be asked to deal with and just
when will they have to deal with it.
“Thursday’s (Nov. 18) announcement changes our previous
plans,” Shoreline President Lee Lambert said, of Gov. Chris Gregoire’s message
that another $385 million must be cut from the state budget for the current
year ending June 30, 2011. The increase adds another 4.6 percent to what had
already been pegged as a 6.3 percent shortfall.
“We’d already planned to cut about $1.3 million for the 6.3
percent target and did it without affecting jobs. This would mean another
million dollars for us that we’d potentially need find right now,” Lambert
Lambert and his senior executive team discussed the scale of
the reduction and potential implications, but no decisions were made on Monday.
“There are just too many uncertainties right now,” Lambert said.
Along with the gloomy revenue projection on Nov. 18,
Gregoire issued a call to three state unions to come back to the bargaining
table. The state Office of Financial management issued an opinion that the
contracts “are not feasible for the state” under the strain of the financial
Gregoire also asked the leaders of both parties in the House
and Senate to submit their thoughts and plans to her by Monday, Nov. 29.
However, to make cuts deeper than already ordered, Gregoire needs the
Legislature to pass a supplemental budget for the current year. Before the Nov.
2 election, Republicans pushed for a special legislative session to deal with
the then-smaller deficit.
On Nov. 5, Gregoire said she would consider a special
session, but has since said she’d only call it if lawmakers could get the work
done in 48 hours or so. Rep. Ross Hunter, D-Clyde Hill, and chairman of the
House Finance Committee said in an interview on
TVW that it could be tough to do that. “The problem is, you can’t do
something complicated quick,” Hunter said.
Many lawmakers will be in Olympia during the first full week
of December for previously scheduled committee meetings. There is some
speculation that Gregoire might call a special session during that time period.
And then, there’s “maintenance of effort.”
As a condition of taking federal bailout money in 2008,
Washington had to agree to keep funding of things like education at a certain
level. That level for 2010-11 has been thought to be no more than about a 4.4
percent reduction, less than the 6.3 percent already ordered by Gregoire.
“When the governor ordered the 6.3 percent cut, the state
board acknowledged the maintenance of effort threshold was there, but advised
all colleges to plan for the larger 6.3 percent cut,” Lambert said. “So far,
there’s been no definitive statement on maintenance of effort, so we keep
planning for the worst and hoping for the best, or at least better.”
Lambert said that Shoreline and the rest of the community
and technical colleges need answers soon. “The longer we wait, the deeper the
cuts would need to be to have the same effect,” he said. “It’s not that I want
to do something now, but that’s better than having to do more later.”