April 26, 2012 - Budget Update

Update from Les

What does the latest budget mean for higher education?

Over the last few years, we’ve been working with a wide range of partners to increase the visibility of public baccalaureate education at the Legislature and effectively demonstrate its value to our state, its citizens and the economy. Those efforts seem to have paid off in the session that concluded earlier this month.

The operating budget passed by the Legislature and signed by the Governor does not reduce general fund support for higher education any further; no further cuts are currently planned to institutions or financial aid for the remainder of this biennium, which ends June 30, 2013. The budget does include some provisos and policy changes that affect higher education. You can read more about those on our Government Relations blog.

What does this mean for Evergreen staff and faculty?

Health Benefits: The state's contribution to the Public Employees Benefits Board (PEBB) for health care benefits is reduced from $850 to $800 per month for the next fiscal year. This is projected to leave the PEBB with adequate reserves so that they will be fully funded through the end of the current biennium. This means no change to health benefits in this biennium, assuming the projections hold true.

Salary and Compensation: What’s the status of the 3% compensation reduction for classified employees that came out of the spring 2011 legislative session and was approved by the classified union (scheduled to take effect July 1, 2012)?

We are working to achieve the required savings without cutting individual compensation by 3%. Given that the state did not make additional cuts to education, Evergreen has proposed to reopen the classified employee collective bargaining agreement on a single topic – elimination of the 3% cut to individual compensation scheduled for the 2012-13 fiscal year. The required cut would instead be funded by base budget reductions we made earlier in the biennium in anticipation of further state cuts. If this approach is accepted by the Federation, there will be no reductions in base compensation for any Evergreen employee group. While it is rare to revisit an agreement mid-term, and we don’t anticipate that it will occur again, we feel it is in the best interest of our employees and the college. We hope to reach a mutually agreeable resolution of this proposal.

Capital Budget

The state’s 2012 capital budget made no changes to Evergreen’s biennial capital budget. That means we are still funded for the Communications Building renovation, Lab I second floor renovations, and continuation of the Lecture Hall pre-design process. Other elements of the capital budget (e.g. minor works) remain unchanged as well.

Does that mean our budgets will be stable at least for the short term?

As always, a worsening in the state's revenue forecast could lead to additional reductions. However, our budgets rely more than ever on enrollment, student mix (resident and non-resident) and tuition revenue. While the Legislature didn’t cut us further, we are currently projecting that we may have difficulty making our 2012-13 targets in some or all of these areas, resulting in less revenue than our base budget requires. It’s possible that the magnitude of these shortfalls may still fit within our planning scenarios, but that won’t be clear until later in the summer. In the meantime, we are working on initiatives to bolster recruitment, retention and fund raising. These efforts will ultimately require support from all areas of the college. Working together, our intention is to eventually reach a more stable funding situation focused on future success, not just immediate budget challenges.

Les Purce