Main Entry: lim·bo
2c: an intermediate or transitional place or state d: a state of uncertainty
From the Merriam-Webster Dictionary
At least some of definitions of “limbo” are appropriate to characterize the budget situation Shoreline Community College, indeed all of Washington state government, is facing at the moment.
“I’d say we’re in limbo,” Janelle Runyon, director of communications for the State Board of Community and Technical Colleges, said recently.
True, Gov. Chris Gregoire on Dec. 18, 2008 unveiled a proposed budget that calls for a round-number cut of 6.5 percent for the coming two years. While a
deep and difficult target, Shoreline Community College and the other 33 community and technical colleges (CTCs) had been planning for at least a 20 percent cut.
From: Daryl Campbell
Re: Budget reduction
Date: January 12, 2009
As most of you are aware, Governor Gregoire recently announced her proposed budget for the 2009-2011 biennium. This initial proposal would reduce operating budgets at community and technical colleges by approximately 6.5% system-wide, from current levels. While this latest news is encouraging, it is important to remember that, historically, the Governor’s proposed budget has never been adopted as written. Additionally, the State’s financial situation remains uncertain; all indications are that the State’s March revenue forecast will project another shortfall. Based on this and other available information, we must maintain vigilance at Shoreline Community College as we prepare our 2009-2010 operating budget. President Lambert’s words continue to ring true: “we must hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.”
The Governor’s proposed budget and subsequent analysis by the State Board of Community and Technical Colleges suggest that next year’s budget reductions may be somewhat less than anticipated. Nevertheless, Shoreline must continue its commitment to fiscal responsibility in its budget planning process. The administration will continue preparing alternative budget scenarios for 2009-2010, which will be submitted to President Lambert, as scheduled, by January 16, 2009. Ultimately, reduction decisions made by the administration will be guided by the “Points of Consideration” document that was adopted by the College’s Budget Committee. The campus community will continue to be kept informed of progress and next steps as developments occur.
While encouraging, Governor Gregoire’s budget priorities are not yet conclusive. Until we know what our SCC budget reality is, we will remain cautiously optimistic and fiscally prudent. Your continued input, support and hard work are greatly appreciated
“We’re pleased that the Governor clearly values community and technical colleges,” Runyon said. Higher-education supporters across the state have been working hard to point out that a dollar invested in CTCs brings a quick and multiplied return to the economy. “All along, we’ve said that community and technical colleges are key to an economic recovery,” Runyon said.
However, Gregoire’s plan is not the final word on the budget.
The Legislature’s session set to begin Monday, Jan. 12, and as SCC Vice President of Adminsitrative Services Daryl Campbell points out (see related story in box), no governor’s budget has ever been adopted without lawmakers putting their own mark on it.
Other variables could be in play, too, including:
- Gregoire’s budget depends on getting $1 billion from the federal government. While President-elect Barack Obama is pledging a stimulus package that may nudge $1 trillion, recent economic news indicate the national situation is worsening;
- The Service Employees International Union Healthcare 775NW unit is suing the state because Gregoire didn’t include previously negotiated raises for state workers who are union members;
- The Washington Federation of State Employees, which represents many classified employees on college campuses, has filed a similar lawsuit;
- The state’s next full economic report is due in March, during the legislative session, and signs are pointing to a deepening slump.
At Shoreline, President Lee Lambert, members of his President’s Senior Executive Team (PSET), the college Budget Committee and others worked hard through the fall to be ready for serious budget cuts. Among the results was a timeline that Lambert announced Dec. 8 at an all-campus meeting attended by more than 300 people in the PUB Main Dining room, including:
- Dec. 8-31, 2008: Feedback from campus and constituencies
- Jan. 1-16, 2009: SET creates a budget reduction draft for 2009-01
- Jan. 20-30: Meetings with PSET, SBCTC staff to discuss draft
- Feb. 2-16: Meetings with unions, Student Government and Budget Committee
- Feb. 17-27: All Campus Meeting, private meetings with affected individuals; meetings with the Board of Trustees
- March 8: Implementation of layoff notices could begin
Since then, the feedback was gathered through a secure Web site available to employees as well as collection boxes placed around campus. All submitted comments are being compiled and will be shared with PSET and the Budget Committee.
The school’s vice presidents, who comprise SET, are working toward the Jan. 16 deadline for a budget draft. Campbell said that draft is likely to address a number of potential budget-cut targets, ranging from 5-20 percent.
After that, the schedule may be at the mercy of the Legislature and economic news, according to PSET members, who are scheduled to meet Monday morning, Jan. 12.