Pierce Pioneer

Summer 2020 / Vol. 53 Issue 7

Pierce College Facing Budget Cuts Amidst COVID-19 Pandemic

Ciara Williams , Staff  Illustration

As the 2020-2021 school year approaches, Pierce College prepares for potential budget cuts due to a wide state fund decline.

On May 11, Pierce College Chancellor Michele Johnson sent out a mass email stating that Pierce College will be experiencing budget cuts in the 2020-2021 school year. As a response, the college is preparing a budget development process that is taking place over the next few months.

Pierce College braces for budget cuts as high as 20 percent. While that percent only accounts for less than half of Pierce’s revenue, according to Johnson, that still is a 10 percent reduction, adding up to around $6 million.

“This work will be difficult and unfortunately, painful,” Johnson stated. “There is no way to handle revenue declines of this magnitude without pain. Departments throughout the college will need to rethink and retool their entire operation.”

Along with Pierce College, multiple other state agencies could face general fund reductions of 15 to 20 percent or higher. This is due to a large decline in Washington State’s general fund revenue. 

“Currently, state officials and legislators are still trying to understand the full extent of the issue,” Johnson stated. “But preliminary forecasting by the state’s Economic and Revenue Forecast Council points to a very large decline in revenue that started in March and could continue for several years.”

Pierce College has made a temporary plan, in hopes of getting the college’s budget through the summer and parts of fall. “Over the next few weeks, the Budget Team and the Budget Planning Groups will be working on ideas and concepts to build a temporary spending plan to present to the Board of Trustees in June,” Johnson stated. “The proposed budget will be reviewed by the District Cabinet and presented to the Board of Trustees in October for approval.”

The Budget Team is currently formed around large groups of departments and divisions throughout the district, including Instruction, Student Services, Self-Support Programs, Facilities/Safety, and Institutional Support Services, as stated by Johnson.

Many questions still remain, such as what departments will be affected by these budget cuts the most, as well as programs or student resources. However, as the months go by, Johnson assures staff that Pierce will continue to answer questions and address the situation.

“The Budget Team and college leadership will continue to share information, involve constituents, and be open and transparent in this process.”

Pierce Pioneer Hallway Hassle – Budget Cuts, Land Development, New Student Advice


Milgard cuts evening childcare

Milgard Center

Budget cuts force Migard childcare to stop evening childcare for students

Addison Kelly
Staff Writer

The Milgard Child Development Center [CDC] has long been a very important part of Pierce College as it provides a place where students can entrust their kids, ages one to five years old, while they are taking classes.

This center is known for being a good environment for young children, as seen in their core beliefs: “Children have Enormous Potential and capability” and “We can best guide children by listening to them.”

Being a wonderful childcare center isn’t enough. There is a bit of controversy surrounding the Early Childhood Education [ECE] program’s budget that effected its decision to cut its evening program.

The employees at the Milgard Center did not seem to know why the evening program was cut.

Dede Reaves, a program assistant at the Milgard Child Development Center had this to say, “I know that they cut their evening program, but I don’t know why. Maybe budget cuts?”

According to Naomi Barrett, a 20 year old student at Pierce College who is currently taking her 4th year of Pierce’s Early Childhood Education Program, the evening childcare program was cut, not for budget cuts, but due to a lack of funds in the first place.

Bringing into question the effect this budget cut has on the students who rely on it.

“The few students that used it can no longer take evening classes” Barrett added.

While presenting a problem for some, she made it clear the funds were low because there were few students who used the program. Therefore, the majority of students will not be affected by this change.

Regardless of minor hiccups along the way, Milgard’s CDC and the separate ECE program will continue to be a convenient resource for students with children. Their programs continue to thrive in the morning and afternoon, so parents can still attend most of their classes with the comfort of knowing their children are nearby and safe.

As another of their core beliefs reads: “We are in partnership with parents and the community.”

Budget cuts could affect Washington filmmakers

Senate Bill 5539 tries to gain support for the Motion Picture Competitiveness Program

Filmmakers in Washington often enjoy benefits from Washington Filmworks, an organization that handles support for film productions and the incentives that come along with it. These incentives can include a thirty percent return on all in-state expenses (including labor and talent), sales tax exemptions on equipment and vehicle rentals, as well as tax exemptions on a 30 day hotel stay. It applies to any film, television program, or commercial shot in state. However, the Motion Picture Competitiveness Program is on the chopping block in the legislature. The incentive is meant to bring business and publicity to the state, and to encourage both independent and major filmmakers to bring their art to the evergreen state.
Vancouver, British Columbia and Portland, Oregon are big players in the film industry, and have comparable landscapes when it comes to Washington. British Columbia can give a tax credit of up to 35%, and Oregon offers 20% back on all goods and services from Oregon, as well as 16.2% back on wages paid to labor and talent. The threat of Washington’s incentives to disappear has moved many productions, even those that take place in Seattle (such as AMC’s series, “The Killing” and the Twilight movies) to Oregon.
Senate Bill 5539 has yet to be voted on in the state Legislature. House Speaker, Representative Frank Chopp (Democrat) was a pivotal player in blocking the bill back in 2011. The bill still remains in a committee, as it was during the last session where it failed to make it to a final vote on the House floor. Chopp, in his opening day speech for the 2012 session, laid out his priorities, which include immediate job creation, support for industry development and creation, and creating family wage jobs. The bill addresses all three of these goals, and the Motion Picture Competitiveness Program has created more than 4,800 jobs, and generated $38 million dollars in revenue for Washington state businesses.
Budget cuts have not only affected the film industry, but funding for the state tourism office was cut during the Legislature’s last session. The threat of the program’s cut didn’t stop filmmakers on the set of “Safety Not Guaranteed” however. The film is headed to the Sundance Film Festival, and is getting some much needed press to the Motion Picture Competitiveness Program.
According to the state Legislature’s website, Senate Bill 5539 was “reintroduced and retained in current status” on January 9th. Bills that do not get passed on the House floor return to their point of origin, meaning the bill in a sense, starts all over again. Washington Filmworks has three lobbyists working in the state capitol, including Board Chair of Washington Filmworks, Becky Bogard. Washington Filmworks has also called local businesses into action to support the bill by signing onto a “Letter of Support”. Not many businesses have signed on so far, but supporters of the bill are hopeful that more will join in soon.
You can learn more about the Motion Picture Competitiveness Program at www.washingtonfilmworks.org, or at http://apps.leg.wa.gov/billinfo. You can also support the bill by writing your local legislator. You can locate yours at http://apps.leg.wa.gov/districtfinder

Written by Joie Sullivan

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