This message to sent to Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District employees Feb. 16 by Chancellor Cindy L. Miles
For the past few years, we’ve been able to lessen the brunt of the state’s funding crisis by budgeting frugally and being incredibly conservative – even pessimistic – in predicting the amount of money we would get from Sacramento. For this fiscal year, we were able to avoid much of the effect of midyear cuts by assuming the worst-case scenario regarding state funding.
This worst-case scenario came to pass in December, and we were ready for it. However, recent news from the state is even worse. We were prepared for the $6.3 million midyear cut we got (the Tier 2 state budget trigger), but now we’ve learned that we can expect an extra 3.3 percent deficit – or about $2.8 million – this year, due to a major shortfall in student fee revenues collected at the state level. Fortunately, we’ve got savings to cover this reduction. Unfortunately, spending this one-time savings drains our defenses against more cuts looming next year.
For the last three years, our Governing Board has approved a conservative annual budget anticipating a midyear state budget reduction, ensuring we don’t spend more money than we receive. Each year we spend sparingly and roll forward all possible savings to offset budget cuts and cost increases in the following fiscal year. This stewardship has guided us well through the mayhem of the continuing California budget crisis. This year, we were able to carry over $8.2 million from 2010-11, which is what protected us from this latest budget hit we just suffered.
Now our piggy bank is dangerously low. We will have less than half our usual savings to carry over to 2012-13, which again promises higher costs and lowered revenues. We are already taking action to delay some critical midyear hires that were previously approved, cut purchases, reduce supplies and operating expenses, restrict travel, and defer facility projects.
GCCCD Budget prospects, as they now stand
2012-13 Budget Tax approved Tax fails
Base shortfall $21.7 million $25.8 million
Proposed solutions $18 million $19 million
Remaining shortfall $3.7 million $6.8 million
Even with those steps, the state budget scenarios for 2012-13 are forbidding. Governor Brown’s budget depends on voter approval of a tax increase in November, but many are doubtful that the measure will pass. If the initiative does pass, the District would still have a $3.7 million shortfall, even with the austerity measures we are already taking. If the tax package fails, our shortfall would grow to more than $6.8 million. Most troubling, we’re looking at cutting more than 200 class sections if the tax measure passes and about 450 sections if the measure fails. That’s on top of the 1,600 sections we’ve had to cut over the past three years.
Alternative tax proposals and negotiations are underway to amend the Governor’s proposals and restore our funding, and we are deeply involved in this advocacy work. Meanwhile, we are obligated to prepare for our current prospects. Our success formula remains the same: prepare for the worst and advocate powerfully for the best.
Next year’s budget prospects are the hardest we have faced yet. Our Districtwide Strategic Planning and Budget Council (DSP&BC) has begun developing collective solutions to address our expected deficit, and welcomes your suggestions. You may contribute ideas via your DSP&BC representative or the electronic Budget Suggestion Box, which is available at email@example.com.
We’ve got a bumpy ride ahead of us, filled with continuing uncertainty, but our commitment to working together, transparently and fairly, remains steady. I’ll keep you posted and we’ll hold budget forums to keep you updated as information becomes available.
One continued assurance is that our GCCCD leaders, our Governing Board, and I will do everything in our power to maintain our principles of protecting our employees and serving our students. I appreciate your support and understanding as we continue finding solutions together.
Cindy L. Miles
Chancellor, Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District