Governor Gregoire’s December 9th supplemental budget proposal fulfilled a state constitutional requirement that the spending scenario not exceed available revenues. While suggesting that without new revenue, the cuts Washington State needs to incur would test Washingtonians’ closely-held values, the Governor challenged citizens and administrators statewide to respond with creative solutions.
In an email to the Evergreen community, President Les Purce emphasized the threat posed to the College by the budget scenario. He highlighted the fact that this early proposal represents the beginning of a process that will continue in upcoming months. He also specifically outlined the potential damage: the permanent $4 million reduction in state support to the College and the deep cuts to the State Need Grant:
Statewide, 77,000 students rely on the State Need Grant. The Governor’s proposal would change eligibility requirements to remove more than 12,000 students from the program and cut the level of grant for the remaining students almost in half. At Evergreen, more than 1300 resident undergraduate students – 41% of our resident undergraduates – currently rely on the State Need Grant for at least a portion of their total cost of attendance. The average size of the grant is about $4,200. While the Governor has indicated her desire to restore funding for student financial aid in a budget proposal she will release in January, the final impact on specific students will not be known until the legislature completes its work at the end of March.
The College “will be using our budget cut scenarios from last year as a starting point for decision making” in an effort to underline the already devastating cuts enacted with the 2009/2011 operating budget. Discussions are ongoing as to how Evergreen can continue to manage those previous cuts with a view to preserving our current funding. Further cuts will threaten fundamental aspects of the Evergreen experience, by drastically affecting students’ ability to attend and pay for college and Evergreen’s ability to provide instructional and student services at sustainable levels.