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* State budget outlook changes again

The circumstances surrounding the Washington state budget as it impacts community and technical colleges appear to be changing … again.


When the state accepted federal stimulus package money, it agreed to not spend less in certain areas than was spent in 2006. One of those areas is higher education and one result is that additional cuts contemplated at the state level for 2009-10 fiscal year were put on hold.


“But, we thought that just meant any reductions would just be delayed and we’d be facing two-years worth of cuts in one year, 2010-11,” said Daryl Campbell, Vice President for Administrative Services. “Now, it doesn’t appear that’s how it will play out.”


Campbell said that he and other CTC business officers heard new information at a recent meeting of the Business Affairs Commission.


“It turns out the 2006 reduction limit does apply in 2010-11,” Campbell told members of the College Council at the Nov. 20, 2009 meeting. “While that sounds like good news, it doesn’t mean there wouldn’t be any budget reductions; it just means they would be limited to some extent.”


That limit could still be pretty devastating, Campbell said at an earlier meeting of the President’s Senior Executive Team.


The state is facing a projected $1.8 billion budget shortfall, based on continued declines in sales tax revenue. In doing the trickle-down math, that could mean an $80 million deficit to higher education. If that burden is shouldered equally, SCC’s share could be about 12 percent of the current budget. If the same formula that was applied this past year is used, the impact could be about 6 percent or $1.2-1.3 million.


Another potential monkey wrench for the state budget could come if voters pass Initiative 1033, the Tim Eyman-sponsored measure that would limit government revenue growth. If I-1033 passes, Campbell said state Office of Financial Management officials are predicting more cuts would be needed.


“However, the 2006 spending limit requirement may protect (higher education) against I-1033,” Campbell said. “We just don’t know what would happen.”

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