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* Special session could clarify budget cuts

All-campus meeting

  • Friday, Dec. 10
  • 12:30-2 p.m.
  • PUB Main Dining (note change from previous location)
A special legislative session in Olympia would be a good thing for Shoreline Community College, says President Lee Lambert.

 

“It is very difficult to plan with all the uncertainty surrounding the state budget,” Lambert said Monday, Dec. 6, 2010. “We may not like the outcome from a special session, but at least we’ll know what we're facing.”

 

Gov. Chris Gregoire said Monday that she will call a special legislative session before Christmas, even though the next regular session is due to start just weeks later in January. On the agenda would be a supplemental budget that must address an ever-increasing revenue shortfall for the year that ends June 30, 2011.

 

Gregoire didn’t set a date, but told lawmakers they have until Thursday afternoon to pick one. If they don’t pick one, Gregoire said, “I’ll give them a day,” according to news reports.

 

Lambert said the special session, combined with other news coming out of Olympia in recent days, may mean that layoffs announced last week for staff, faculty and administrators could be delayed.

 

“There have been proposals from both Republicans and Democrats that call for honoring the maintenance-of-effort threshold,” Lambert said. “We weren't expecting that, but if it’s the case, and there are no other serious reductions, we may be able to hold off … for now.”

 

Maintenance of effort (MOE) refers to a requirement agreed to by state officials as a condition of accepting federal stimulus funds back in 2008. “If the MOE holds, we might be looking at a cut of about 4 percent instead of almost 11 percent,” Lambert said.

 

Shoreline and all colleges took a 7 percent cut coming into this fiscal year, then were told this fall by Gregoire to find another 6.3 percent and then got presented with an additional 4.6 percent target after the grim Nov. 19 state revenue forecast.

 

Lambert cautioned that any reprieve would likely be short-lived.

 

“The state is still projecting huge deficits, $5.7 billion, for the coming biennium,” Lambert said. “The (State Board for Community and Technical Colleges) told us last week that cuts starting July 1, 2011 could hit 18 percent. We couldn’t avoid job losses at that level.”

 

To that end, Lambert said that notification of employees regarding potential layoff will continue, a process that started last week and is ongoing.

 

“We notified both the faculty and classified unions. We are speaking to administrators about the potential for layoff,” he said. “If things go well, we may be able to put off those reductions for awhile. If not, we’ll be in a position to move quickly and avoid going any deeper than absolutely necessary.”

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