Since my last communication to you about our state and nation’s economic crisis, Governor Patterson has offered more long-range projections regarding our state budget. He projects a $1.5 billion budget deficit this fiscal year, a $12.5 billion deficit next year, and a $47 billion deficit over the next four years. The seriousness of our state’s fiscal health is undoubted.
We still know little about what our state leaders will do to address these predicted budget shortfalls. We may have a clearer indication of what might be in store when the Governor releases his 2009-10 budget proposal on December 16. We will keep you informed. We have expressed—and will continue to convey—to our elected officials our understanding of the necessity of cuts and our hope that they will recognize higher education and, in particular, community colleges, as economic drivers and wise investments. In the coming weeks, you will hear more about how you can help us in that effort.
While we are hopeful that cuts to higher education will not be deep, we must plan for some financial pain. The vice presidents and I have identified the following strategies to proactively secure our financial future:
1. Positions that are currently vacant will be assessed and only those deemed critical to the operation of the college by all the vice presidents will be filled. The vice presidents are working through this assessment and will communicate those decisions as soon as they are made.
2. Overtime must be approved in advance by the respective vice president.
3. Travel will be limited to last year’s expenditure levels.
4. The technology expenditure planned for this year will be reduced by nearly half, from approximately $750,000 to about $450,000.
5. Our holiday party, set for Tuesday, December 16, will go on, but in a manner respectful of these economic times. Even in this constraining economy, all-college gatherings like this are important to our sense of community and cultural fabric. I hope you will attend in the spirit of fellowship.
6. While a mid-year tuition increase at the SUNY state-operated colleges and universities is being discussed, we are not looking at one for MCC. Our students are already registering for the spring semester; to change our financial expectations of them now would be unfair. With that said, I think it is likely that tuition will need to be increased next year. Those decisions will be made as we develop the budget for 2009-10.
Let me extend my deep appreciation to the vice presidents for their work in identifying these cost-saving strategies. It is neither easy nor enjoyable work, but it is important.
You can help as well. Oftentimes, it is the people on the front line of an organization who are best able to identify cost-saving measures. Please share your ideas—big and small—by emailing them to <<mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org>>. We will get through these fiscal challenges by working together.
Thank you for your continued good work for MCC and its students.
Larry W. Tyree