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* Budget belt cinched to the anticipated notch

Two bills signed late Wednesday, Feb. 18, 2009 by Gov. Chris Gregoire will trim the current Shoreline Community College budget to roughly the amount anticipated in planning sessions over the past several months.

 

The 2009 supplemental operating budget, ESHB 1694, contains a budget reduction for the entire community and technical college system of $32 million. Gov. Gregoire proposed the same level of cuts in the proposal she unveiled on Dec. 18.

 

For Shoreline, that means a budget reduction of just under $1 million, according to Vice President for Administrative Services Daryl Campbell. School officials had previously identified as much as $1.25 million in savings for the year that ends June 30, 2009. SCC President Lee Lambert has said previously that if current-year cuts came in at the anticipated level, no layoffs would be necessary for the year ending June 30, 2009.

 

While the size of the cut was expected, the other bill signed by the governor restricts what all state agencies can do with the money that remains. The bill ESSB 5460, is also known as the belt-tightening bill. While more clarification will be needed, according to an early analysis by staff at the State Board of Community and Technical Colleges, the bill will:

 

  • Limit all salary increases for 12 months, except for classified staff step increases.
  • Through July 1, freeze hiring for positions supported by state funds or tuition unless they are “directly related to academic programs,” a phrase isn’t defined in the bill.
  • Freeze personal-services contracts through July 1, when using any state funds or tuition.  The freeze doesn’t apply when private or federal grants or local funds are used or when necessary to receive or maintain federal funds.
  • Freeze out-of-state travel and training through July 1. Again, the freeze does not apply to expenditures from private or federal grants, or from local funds.
  • Prohibit equipment purchases over $5,000 through July 1 when state funds or tuition are used. This freeze wouldn’t apply to equipment purchased with capital funds associated with major capital projects using certain funds.

Exemptions to the freezes can be granted by Victor Moore, director of the state Office of Financial Management, but those must be forwarded to the Legislature every 30 days and any exemption can’t take effect until five days after the Legislature has been notified.  OFM will provide more detail on the exemption process in the next few days.

 

Even the signing of these bills may not mean the supplemental budget is set. SBCTC staff say they anticipate the Legislature will take another look at the supplemental budget after the regularly scheduled March 19 revenue report.

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