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* SCC officials review budget situation

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 Dining

 

The numbers keep getting bigger and bigger; that much is known.

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 said.

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 crisis.

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.”

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