When Saturdays’ special-session gavel came down in Olympia,
Shoreline Community College breathed just a little easier – for now.
“We’re still taking a budget cut this year, but it is far
less than it could’ve been,” Shoreline President Lee Lambert said late Saturday,
Dec. 11, 2010. “At 3.8 percent, the bills passed by the Legislature honor the
federal maintenance-of-effort level.
“This gives us some breathing room, until June 30.”
Lambert said that barring unforeseen changes, announced layoffs
and at least some of the other planned budget-reduction strategies are on hold
for the balance of this fiscal year, which ends June 30, 2011.
“All fall, the news kept getting worse. We’d been told by
the Governor and the State Board (for Community and Technical Colleges) to plan
for cuts that added up to a 10.9 percent reduction,” Lambert said. The
maintenance-of-effort (MOE) clause, which is tied to the state’s acceptance of
federal stimulus money, was always in place, but colleges were advised to not
count on it, he said.
“It’s hard to say that a 3.8 percent cut half way through
the year is good news, but given the alternatives, we’ll take it,” Lambert
According to State Board officials, the overall cut to
higher education will be $51 million with $26.7 million of that falling to
community and technical colleges. The exact amount of Shoreline’s share should
be known in the coming week. Another budgetary sleight of hand, Gov. Gregoire’s
idea proposed on Nov. 23 to ask colleges to cover State Need Grant payments for
the rest of this year, is not in the bills passed Saturday.
The Legislature’s efforts fill only $588 million of the $1.1
billion current-year shortfall with Gov. Chris Gregoire taking care of the
rest. Details are expected from Gregoire next week, but state officials don’t
expect any surprises in the form of additional cuts to higher education.
The next step for Shoreline, Lambert said, is to decide just
what will be cut to hit the 3.8 percent target. “Obviously, we’ve done a lot of
planning for much deeper cuts. Now, we have to decide which pieces will be
used,” he said. “I’ll ask the vice presidents this week for recommendations.”
Lambert reminded that Saturday’s news is just a postponement
of what are still seen as deep and devastating cuts to come. Gov. Gregoire is
also expected next week to release her proposals for the 2011-13 operating and
capital budgets. That plan will have to deal with a projected $5.7 billion
shortfall. State Board officials have already warned colleges that budget cuts
for that cycle could hit 18 percent
“We don’t know yet what’s in store for the next biennium,
but it doesn’t look good,” Lambert said. “If it is as bad as they say, we’ll be
right back here, looking at significant layoffs and serving fewer students.”