Recent budget deficits have triggered a series of spending cuts by Washington state lawmakers.
The cuts threaten to eliminate or diminish some government services, which include the educational offerings at Pierce College.
According to Gov. Chris Gregoire, a $9 billion deficit was closed up last year but six months later another shortfall of $2.6 billion was discovered.
Gregoire pointed to lagging state revenue, as well as the current recession, as key factors in the creation of the largest budget gap in state history.
How does all this affect Pierce College?
“There may be positions that go unfilled,” Pierce College Puyallup President Patrick Schmitt said. “At this point the answer to programs being cut is no. We have been told by the governor to expect a budget 10 percent minimum, less, in terms of state allocation than we had before.”
Schmitt said the state gives the college a target in terms of the number of students and credits that it should be offering and Pierce is about 25 percent above that.
“We are called upon to do a great deal more with somewhat less than we have before,” Schmitt said.
The challenge of providing for more students with less funding is one neither Schmitt nor any of his professional peers can avoid. All but three other states face budget shortfalls this year.
“It makes life difficult but we have stepped up to the plate,” Schmitt said.
With applications for financial aid having more than doubled, Schmitt commended what he called the campus wraparound services of financial aid, registration and advising and student services.
“Our people have really worked their heart and souls out in order to accommodate those students,” he said.
A rise in tuition is expected to offset some of the budget shortfalls but that increase comes with a cost.
“We don’t like it when tuition rises,” Schmitt said. “What it means to us is that the number of people who need college but can’t get it goes up and they’re often the people who need it the most”
The president also explained that a campus-wide review process is in the works.
“We will take a look at every program and every position on campus.” Schmitt said. “Not in order to cut it, but in order to figure out how to make it do more.”
The Puyallup Post is the award-winning student news of Pierce College Puyallup in Puyallup, Washington. Copyright The Puyallup Post 2017. Twitter/Instagram @puyalluppost
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