Attempting to reduce a $4.6 billion deficit in the Washington state budget, Gov. Christine Gregoire wants to cut higher education funding even more..
Among the $3 billion Gregoire proposes to cut from the overall budget, about $220 million will be cut from colleges and universities.
She proposed to cut 9 percent from college funding in the 2011-2012 school year and another 4 percent in 2012-2013.
These budget cuts will affect Pierce in every way.
Joann Wiszmann, vice president of administrative services, says that Pierce already took a 3.6 percent cut this school year. By the end of spring quarter, Pierce will have endured $1 million in cuts.
Pierce administrators had taken mid-year budget cuts into account when they planned their budgets for this school year. But they had not planned on Gregoire making so many more cuts.
Wiszmann says that these continual cuts will afflict Pierce with a variety of problems.
“This is our fourth round of cuts in three years,” she says. “With each round, more of our operations are affected, and those impacts become more visible to students.”
One of the biggest ways the state budget cuts will affect Pierce is through tuition increases.
Gregoire proposed that colleges increase tuition by 10 percent this year and another 10 percent the next year.
This translates to tuition rising $230 per person in 2012 and $305 in 2013.
Yet, one 10 percent tuition increase could cover about half the budget cuts Gregoire has proposed.
According to Vice President of Advancement Suzy Ames, Running Start students could also be affected by these cuts.
Legislature is considering charging Running Start students tuition.
Tuition for Running Start students appears unlikely at the moment, says Wiszmann, but college officials cannot be certain until the Legislature completes its work in mid-April.
The governor’s proposed budget cuts will affect Pierce in many other ways.
“I can honestly say that all aspects of Pierce will be impacted,” Wiszmann says.
With less money coming in, Pierce administration will have to cut back on student services.
“No department or person is safe from what could happen,” ASPCP President Lauren Adler says. “Things are changing constantly.”
Adler says student government officials are looking for ways to be more efficient with funding and continue providing services to students, but it’s going to be hard with more and more cuts.
“There’s not enough money in the pot as it is,” she says.
Pierce College administration and staff will also be affected. Overall administration will be reorganized, and positions may be cut.
“We are looking at both sides of the equation,” Wiszmann says, “Ways to increase revenue and decrease costs.”
The governor also proposed to eliminate employee salary increases under Initiative 732 and to reduce salaries for all employees. She also proposed changes to employee health and pension benefits.
Besides students and staff, the Pierce College Foundation will also be affected. It will have to raise even more money to keep up with these cuts.
“The need for the Foundation will only grow,” says Ames, who is also the executive director of the Pierce College Foundation.
“The college will be looking to the Foundation for increased support in areas such as instructional equipment, professional development for faculty and staff, and scholarships for students,” she says.
One positive aspect of the proposal is that Gregoire proposes to continue the Student Achievement Initiative, which rewards colleges for putting students through school.
All these things are part of a proposal that has not been passed yet. Adler encourages students to get involved with these changes.
“It’s important to remember that we are all voters,” Adler says, “We can all get involved and give our opinions about what funding should be preserved.”
Adler encourages students to get involved with this process by voting, writing letters to legislators and coming to her for any questions they have about the proposal or its impact on students.
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