That sound emanating from Shoreline Community College Wednesday afternoon was the collective sigh of relief from the presidents of the state’s 34 community and technical colleges.
Gathered at Shoreline for their December statewide meeting, the presidents and other higher-education officials reviewed Gov. Chris Gregoire’s proposed budget for the coming biennium, issued Wednesday morning.
“Under the circumstances, we’re very pleased with the Governor’s budget,” Shoreline Community College President Lee Lambert said. “(The presidents) have just been discussing her budget. While it does include a significant tuition increase that will impact students, overall, it could’ve been that and much more.”
According to State Board for Community and Technical College staff, Gregoire’s plan includes tuition rate hikes of 10 percent for each of the next two years. That would translate to roughly $100 a quarter for a full-time student.
The state allocation to colleges would be reduced by just less than 10 percent. Including the tuition increase, the net average reduction would be about 2.6 percent, according to state board staff.
“We know this is just the first step toward a final budget next spring,” Lambert said “There will be proposals from both parties in the House and the Senate. However, with this budget, the Governor is clearly saying the community and technical college system is key to this state’s economic recovery and putting people back to work. That’s a sentiment I agree with whole-heartedly.”
Moving forward, Lambert said the college’s previous budget-reduction planning would provide the basis for responding to a final state budget. “We’ll just have to wait and see what the Legislature does, but we’re pleased with the bar set by Gov. Gregoire,” he said.
Gregoire also released her proposed capital budget, a list of building projects for the state. Shoreline isn’t on the list, but that was expected. The college is working on a master development plan, with an application expected to be submitted to the city of Shoreline sometime this winter. The college needs the plan before proposing capital projects to the state.
Gregoire must still put forth a supplemental budget to cover revenue shortfalls in the current year. The Legislature met in a special session on Saturday, Dec. 11, and came up with $588 million, about half of the needed budget cuts. Gregoire is scheduled to unveil her complete plan to meet the $1.1 billion shortfall on Monday, Dec. 20, according to state board staff.