This report provides a summary of recent actions and proposals on a wide range of issues, including revenue reform, a comprehensive transportation package, and the sale of the Elliott Forest. It also provides a rundown of some key bills under consideration as the legislature nears another deadline for committee consideration of bills.

 

The Mega Issues

Legislators are making slow but continuing progress as they cobble together the various “mega issues” that need to be resolved before the legislature hits its July 10 sine die deadline. The patchwork of issues includes a transportation package; PERS reform; health care reform, including a health provider tax; housing affordability; and, hardest of all, a balanced budget that includes both tax reform and budget reductions that address the structural costs that continue to place upward pressure on state budgets from biennium to biennium. All of these issues must come together in a coordinated manner that will attract the necessary votes to gain passage.

The last two weeks have shown progress in two areas – creation of a statewide transportation package and the unveiling of two competing tax reform proposals. Both issues have attracted a fair amount of media attention, which can be found below.

Transportation Package: Lawmakers presented a comprehensive proposal for addressing a range of challenges to Oregon’s transportation infrastructure. The proposals include efforts to reduce congestion in the Portland metro area, improve the backlog of deferred maintenance, and increase sagging revenues from the gas tax as cars become more fuel-efficient and non-reliant on fuels subject to the gasoline tax.

See a PowerPoint regarding the challenges and solutions presented to the Joint Transportation Committee here. Most notable for those in the Corvallis area is the listing of the single lane Van Buren Bridge as a “Possible Secondary Future Project,” which would require local approval for inclusion on the list.

For press reports on the proposal:

Issues that have attracted considerable attention include a proposed sales tax on bicycles to help pay for bikeways, possible toll roads in the Portland metro area, a payroll tax, increased registration fees and a tax on new vehicle sales.

Revenue Reform: In late April, Senate President Peter Courtney and House Speaker Tina Kotek announced the formation of a Joint Committee on Tax Reform responsible for developing proposals to raise revenues to fill an estimated $1.6 billion gap in the state’s budget. The legislature undertakes this effort in unison with other legislative efforts to reign in the factors that are contributing to upward pressures on the state budget, including the state Public Employee Retirement System (PERS) and state public employee health benefits (PEBB).

For helpful materials and articles on revenue reform:

Ultimately, if legislators adopt a Commercial Activity or Gross Receipts Tax, they will need to weigh the issue of how many businesses–and what kinds–it will affect, whether to eliminate or reduce other business taxes, steps that can ameliorate the effects on low-income Oregonians, and a host of other issues. There are many complex issues to resolve over the final two months of the legislative session.

It is too early to predict what, if any, proposal will be able to attract the necessary bi-partisan super-majority vote in each chamber needed to pass a comprehensive tax plan. In both the House and Senate, at least one Republican member would have to break with party ranks to join all of the Democrats (assuming that party’s ranks are unified) to vote for a tax package. Tax packages in the Senate require 18 votes, while the membership is made up of 17 Democrats and 13 Republicans. In the House, with a membership of 35 Democrats and 25 Republicans, 36 votes are required to pass a tax bill. A simple majority of legislators can refer a measure to the voters for consideration.

Cost Containment: The Legislative Cost Containment Work Group recommended a number of strategies for agency budget reductions, PERS reform, health care cost containment, and overall budget principles. The work group broke the recommendations down by short-term solutions (solving this biennium’s shortfall) and long-term solutions (permanent). The Legislative Fiscal Office has not yet analyzed how each of the recommendations will actually result in savings. Notable among the recommendations are proposals to enact a statewide hiring freeze for nonessential positions (this would not necessarily apply to universities although most are looking at possible hiring “chills” or other actions), increase current and future employees’ contributions to PERS, and combine the PEBB and the OEBB.

 

The Elliott Forest

The Elliott State Forest is 82,000-acres of publicly owned forest in Oregon’s Coast Range north of Coos Bay. Over the last several weeks, the Governor and State Treasurer sought to engage OSU in discussions regarding ways in which the College of Forestry could provide research relevant to the management of the Elliott State Forest. These discussions have included consideration of an option five years from now that would enable OSU to purchase the forest to serve as a research and demonstration site.

Over the last year, due to legal efforts to ensure that the assets of the forest contribute to the State Common School Fund, as required by the Oregon Constitution, the State Land Board has conducted a process to sell the forest for a minimum of about $220 million based on its appraised value. The Land Board consists of the Governor, State Treasurer, and Secretary of State, and is responsible for the oversight and management of the Common School Fund.

Last year, the Lone Rock Timber Company and the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe made a joint bid of $220.8 million to purchase the Elliott Forest, a move that the College of Forestry supported. In February, by a vote of 2-1, over the Governor’s objections, the Land Board accepted that bid. Subsequently, the Governor and Treasurer indicated they opposed the sale, and they each embarked on efforts that would retain the public ownership of the forest and seek a financial instrument to provide a stream of payments to the Common School Fund to avert a suit by the Oregon School Boards Association.

On May 9, in response to efforts to retain the forest in public ownership, the Land Board unanimously rejected the sale proposal and embarked on a process by which the state would finance a $100 million bond to provide approximately $4 million in annual payments to the Common School Fund. The Board also considered a plan put forward by State Treasurer Tobias Read that would involve the College of Forestry in research within the Elliott State Forest. The plan includes a possible option that would enable–not obligate–OSU to purchase the forest after a period of five years, as guided by the research and federal efforts to establish a Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) under the Endangered Species Act.

In discussions involving the Elliott, OSU has been clear on three points:

  • First, the university has no interest in contributing to the disruption of a sale that received a majority of votes by the Land Board. The university became actively involved in discussions regarding alternative plans only when it became clear, as a result of actions taken by the Governor and State Treasurer, that the sale would not take place.
  • Second, because actions involving the Elliott Forest may involve the use of state bonding capacity, OSU’s potential involvement in any actions taken regarding the Elliott Forest should not detract from our long-standing priority to secure bonding to finance the full expansion of the OSU-Cascades campus in Bend.
  • Third, the state needs to fund the research contemplated over the next five years. If separate funding is not secured, this research cannot be conducted.

The College of Forestry does present the State with an opportunity to engage in comprehensive, sustained research and data collection to better inform the relationship between active forest management and conservation of listed species. OSU research could provide a scientific basis to help guide the development of an HCP and future management of the forest. The university would not engage in management of the forest now, but would retain an option to purchase the forest at a future date if or when an HCP is in place.  The HCP would provide greater certainty regarding the forest’s management and support a well-defined and financially sustainable business plan. Executing an option to purchase would clearly be subject to review and approval by the OSU Board of Trustees.

 

Tuition Increases at Other Universities

Last week, the Higher Education Coordinating Commission (HECC) approved requests for resident, undergraduate tuition increases above 5% for Western Oregon University, Oregon Tech, and Southern Oregon University. HECC did not approve requests from Portland State University and the University of Oregon. Those universities are in conversation with HECC staff and the Commission about reconsidering the votes by which HECC denied those requests. If at least five of the voting Commissioners agree to provide approval, the HECC will convene a meeting within the next two weeks to reconsider the votes. The Oregon Student Association (OSA) had a strong presence at the HECC meeting and disrupted the meeting briefly during Commission deliberations. OSA has signaled that it would continue to oppose requests for tuition increases but that their focus will generally shift to the Legislature and the need for increased revenue. To that end, OSA is planning on phone banking on May 17 and holding lobby days on May 24 and June 6 with SEIU and other partners.

 

Legislative Bills, Hearings, and Issues

Revenue Forecast: This Tuesday, May 16, the state economist will issue the economic and revenue forecast that will guide legislators in constructing the state budget. Previous forecasts have shown continued growth in revenues, but recent changes in economic indicators may signal slackened growth. The forecast may also indicate that revenues will exceed the May 2015 economic forecast by more than two percent, which would involve Oregon’s unique kicker. When the State Office of Economic Analysis releases its forecast, you can find it here.

Credit Transfer and Articulation: SB 207 would require universities and community colleges to automatically accept college credit for students who achieve a score of 3 on advanced placement tests. Although the bill sailed through the Senate on a 29-0 vote, educational institutions are opposing the bill as it is considered by the House Higher Education Committee. We have raised concerns that it disrupts existing and functional faculty led efforts to review and establish course equivalency requirements that fit each institution’s curriculum. The provosts from all seven public universities submitted testimony in opposition to the bill.

Regardless of the bill’s fate, credit transfer and articulation will continue to attract attention from legislators and the Higher Education Coordinating Commission (HECC) who cite statistics that indicate that students who transfer from community colleges to universities must take significantly more credits than the 180 required in order to attain an undergraduate degree.

Financial Aid Information: Community colleges and universities have also sought changes to SB 253, which would require them to notify students individually of their debt load on a yearly basis. The institutions indicate that they already provide this information to students, that they cannot meet the requirements of the bill because they don’t have access to information about what private debt students may be using to finance their education, and because the cost of generating customized profiles would need to be included in state funding for the institutions. The institutions are seeking amendments that would make the bill less expensive to implement.

OSU-Cascades Expansion: On Wednesday, May 24, the Senate Business & Transportation Committee will receive a presentation from advocates for the expansion of the OSU-Cascades campus in Central Oregon. The presentation will focus on the linkage between the campus and the region’s economic growth and potential.

Remaining Ways & Means Reviews: Over the next two to three weeks, the Joint Ways & Means Education Subcommittee will conduct information hearings on a number of remaining issues, including:

  • Outdoor School: Legislators are weighing options for how much to fund the roughly $40 million biennial investment in Outdoor School approved by voters with the passage of Ballot Measure 99 last November. Under the measure, the OSU Extension Service is responsible for administering the grant program and developing the curriculum for this program.
  • Oregon Promise: Legislators are also weighing the extent to which funding for the Oregon Promise—“Free Community College”—flows to students from families that demonstrate little to no financial need.
  • State Programs: Legislators are interested in the outputs of specific state-funded programs at the universities and have asked for time to review a number of these programs. (This does not involve the OSU Statewide Public Service Programs.)

 

Capital Funding

On Friday, May 12, OSU supporters and faculty testified in support of a number of capital projects under consideration by the Joint Ways & Means Subcommittee on Capital Construction. Advocates from Bend drove the 120 plus miles to deliver the allowed three minutes of testimony in support of the expansion of OSU-Cascades. Others supported the investment in the OSU Quality Food & Beverage initiative on the Corvallis Campus. Faculty member Virginia Weiss testified in support of the capital renewal of Cordley Hall on the OSU Campus.

 

The Beaver Caucus

On Tuesday May 23, the Beaver Caucus will be holding a “two minute drill” with legislators in support of OSU’s legislative agenda. For further information:  http://thebeavercaucus.org/beaver-caucus-two-minute-drill-may-23/

As the Oregon legislature nears the halfway point in the 2017 session, the next two weeks will be among its busiest. Friday, April 7th marked the last day for posting committee work sessions for bills in their chambers of origin, meaning that if a House bill hadn’t been listed on a House committee agenda for consideration, that bill can be considered “dead.” Same for Senate bills in Senate committees. Now the committees have until April 18th to actually pass the bills they have posted. So, for the next two weeks committee agendas are packed with bills vying for survival, while advocates of all stripes are working hard to keep them alive or kill them.

Bills that do not pass out of committee by April 18th can also be considered dead. Of course, no bill is “totally dead” until the last gavel falls. Provisions from dead bills can always be stuffed into other bills that are alive and well. (In the Oregon legislature amendments can only be accomplished in committees, not on the chamber floors.)

A good number of the bills up for consideration over the next two weeks may make it out of their committees, only to find themselves in another committee not subject to legislative deadlines. For example, bills that are a prioritybut which contain controversial provisions that need more work may end up in the Senate or House Rules Committee. Once there, those bills may sit and wait for consideration as part of the overall legislative log-rolling process. Other bills that have a fiscal impact because they require state funding to be implemented will find themselves in the Joint Ways & Means Committee. That committee will generally not consider individual bills until after it has completed work on agency budgets. In many cases bills can be folded in to agency spending bills. That process will continue for the next several months.

The legislature has until July 10th to complete its work. And, it will likely not be able to adjourn until it has coordinated and completed work on a patchwork of “mega issues,” including revenue reform; a transportation package; PERS reform; health care reform, including a health provider tax; housing affordability; and a balanced budget that will include a number of cost reductions needed to achieve that budget. Over the last six weeks legislative committees and task forces, some of them in open forums, others in closed-door work groups, have been developing proposals for many of these issues. In the coming months, all of these issues must come together in a manner that will attract the necessary votes to gain passage. For votes involving tax increases, a three-fifths bipartisan supermajority will be needed in each of the chambers.

Concessions made in one package may require adjustments in another. The process is one large, simultaneous equation with multiple unsolved variables. In the end, all of the pieces need to fit together. Compounding the mega issues are a number of other discrete policy issues that may increase friction between the two parties as well as between the two chambers. Differences of opinion between chambers can sometimes be as fractious and disruptive as differences between parties.

The good news so far is that “The Oregon Way” has not yet involved “nuclear options” or filibusters. But we have miles yet to travel and significant obstacles to overcome before the session is complete.

 

Higher Education

Budget Hearings: This week the Joint Ways & Means Education Subcommittee begins to hear directly from universities regarding their operating budgets. For the past several weeks the subcommittee has heard from the Higher Education Coordinating Commission and community colleges. OSU President Ed Ray will lead off the presentations this Wednesday, April 12th, joined by panelists from the other four-year universities. On Thursday, April 13th leaders from the three OSU Statewide Public Service Programs – Extension, Agricultural Experiment Station, and Forest Research Laboratory will discuss their budgets. Cindy Sagers, OSU vice president for research and OSU Engineering student, Bret Lorimore, will also address the subcommittee on the importance of university research.

Public Testimony: The subcommittee will take public testimony on university budgets at 8:30 AM on Monday, April 17th. Individuals interested in participating in the public hearing should contact us as soon as possible:  jock.mills@oregonstate.edu. Those interested in monitoring any of the hearings can do so via the legislative website: https://www.oregonlegislature.gov/citizen_engagement/Pages/Legislative-Video.aspx

OSU’s focus for testimony before the Ways & Means Education Subcommittee continues to focus on the following priorities:

  • Support at least a $100 million increase for Oregon’s public universities to achieve a comparable level of funding to the current biennium and to avoid unaffordable tuition increases and program reductions.
  • Recover $9.4 million in budget reductions to the OSU Statewide Public Service Programs–the Extension Service, Agricultural Experiment Station, and Forest Research Laboratory. See comprehensive information regarding the advocacy effort aimed at Senate Bill 805 for the OSU Statewides here.
  • Fully fund the Oregon Opportunity Grant–the state’s need-based student financial aid program for community college and university students.

Capital Projects: The Ways & Means Capital Construction Committee has yet to meet to consider the many anticipated bonding projects for the 2017 session. Higher education projects under consideration in that committee include a consolidated list of projects recommended by the seven university presidents totaling $284 million across all seven public universities. Included in that list is $65 million for capital renewal to be shared among the seven campuses; $9 million in bonds matched by $9 million in philanthropic donations for a quality food and beverage initiative at OSU focusing on cheese, wine and beer; $20 million for site preparation and infrastructure improvements at the OSU-Cascades campus in Bend; and a number of deferred maintenance projects.

Once the $284 million multi-university package is attained, OSU is also seeking an additional $49 million for OSU-Cascades to complete two additional buildings–an academic building and a student services building. In March, the House Higher Education Committee approved HB2782 which would provide the $69.5 million needed to fully fund the OSU-Cascades campus expansion. That bill is now awaiting consideration in the Joint Ways & Means Committee.

 

Bills of Note

Since our last report, the following bills have made progress:

  • Vaccines for Outbreaks (HB 3276). OSU is working with the seven public universities and Rep. Nancy Nathanson (D-Eugene) on a bill that would ensure that vaccines are made available to students and others during major outbreaks of contagious diseases such as meningitis. The bill is undergoing a number of amendments and will be considered by the House Health Care Committee on Wednesday, April 12th.
  • State match for the Pacific Marine Energy Center (SB 285). On Monday, April 10th, the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee will consider SB 285 which would provide $4 million in state funds to help match a $40 million US Department of Energy grant for which OSU successfully competed in 2014. OSU is also working to raise private industry and philanthropic funds for this project. For more information on the grant, click here.
  • University Research “Fighting Fund” (HB 2582). This bill would establish a $20 million fund to support universities as they compete for federal grants. The bill is scheduled for a work session on Thursday, April 13th, when the House Higher Education Committee will consider an amendment that will establish the fund but provide the legislature with greater flexibility in determining when and how to transfer revenues into the fund. If adopted, the amended bill would establish a process by which, during the February short sessions, the legislature will consider adding $5 million to the fund over the next four biennia. The goal would be to maintain the fund at the $20 million level as universities succeed in achieving federal grants.
  • Resolution commending the OSU Women’s Basketball team (SCR 17). On Wednesday, April 12th the Senate Rules Committee will consider SCR 17 which commends the achievements during the 2015-16 season when the OSU women went to the final four in the NCAA tournament. The Committee will consider amendments to the resolution that add the team’s accomplishments during the 2016-17 season.
  • Animal Trafficking (HB 2576). This bill contains technical changes to Ballot Measure 100, passed by voters last November. The ballot measure restricts the sale and trade of endangered species and parts and products from identified endangered species. As amended by the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, the bill clarifies exemptions in the ballot measure to ensure that universities and community colleges in Oregon can continue to routinely improve their collections for educational and research purposes through sales, trades, exchanges, and purchases of specimens. The bill was amended and approved by the House Committee on March 23rd, and on April 3rd the House approved the bill by a vote of 58-0. The bill is now in the Senate where it will be considered by the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee.
  • Open Education Resources (HB 2729). On March 28th, the House Higher Education Committee amended and approved HB 2729, which would continue funding for open education resources, also known as OERs or “free textbooks.” The bill is now under the consideration of the Joint Ways & Means Committee.
  • Health benefits for employees who work at multiple institutions (SB 196). This bill seeks to continue efforts to extend health benefits to faculty when their combined hours at multiple institutions add up to more than half-time.  This issue has been considered in prior sessions and was the subject of an interim study, but complications in defining hours and benefits between community colleges and universities have prevented benefits from being extended to faculty employed at both.  Benefits are already available for faculty who work over half-time at multiple universities.  The bill will be considered by the Senate Education Committee on Tuesday, April 11th
  • PERS benefits for Post-Docs (SB 214). Because post-doctoral research positions typically do not last five years, few, if any, post-doctoral scholars fully vest in PERS or ORP. This bill would enable an alternative retirement program for post-docs at public universities to ensure that they can transfer their benefits when they move on to another employer. The bill will be considered by the Senate Workforce Committee on Monday, April 10th. For a fact sheet that explains the bill click here. OSU will be providing additional information regarding the overall issue of PERS reform bills later this week.

 

Join us for OSU Day at the Capitol – Thursday, April 20th

Please consider joining advocates in support of Oregon State University on Thursday, April 20th for OSU Day at the Capitol. For information about the activities planned for the day: click here.

Register here!

 

Questions, comments, concerns?  Please contact us:

Jock Mills, Director: Jock.Mills@oregonstate.edu

Karli Olsen, Coordinator: Karli.Olsen@oregonstate.edu

The legislature is now six weeks into the long session, which, under the state’s constitution, is scheduled to end in early July. This update provides a progress report on some of the key bills and activities that we are pursuing on behalf of OSU and higher education.

 

Ways & Means

By Friday, March 17, 2017, the Joint Ways & Means Committee will have completed a series of hearings around the state. Most of the testimony it received addressed concerns about funding cuts to specific programs, or the need for additional revenues to fill the state’s projected $1.8 billion shortfall in its forecasted budget. Since our last update, the state economist has issued a quarterly forecast that indicates Oregon’s economy is performing well, but not in a fashion that will make a significant change in the state’s overall need for either additional tax revenues or structural cost reductions (or both).

In early April, the Joint Ways & Means Education Subcommittee will consider the budget for Oregon’s seven public universities as it reviews funding for the Higher Education Coordination Commission (HECC). Universities will have the opportunity to provide information directly to the subcommittee, and we are in the process of preparing a number of presentations involving the Public University Support Fund, Statewide Public Service Programs, and other targeted programs aimed at student success.

OSU’s focus for testimony before Ways & Means:

  • Support at least a $100 million increase for Oregon’s public universities to achieve a comparable level of funding to the current biennium and to avoid unaffordable tuition increases and program reductions.
  • Recover $9.4 million in budget reductions to the OSU Statewide Public Service Programs – the Extension Service, Agricultural Experiment Station, and Forest Research Laboratory. See comprehensive information regarding the advocacy effort aimed at Senate Bill 805 for the OSU Statewides here.
  • Invest $69.5 million in state bonds to expand the OSU-Cascades campus once the projects recommended by the Oregon Council of Presidents have been funded.
  • Fully fund the Oregon Opportunity Grant – the state’s need-based student financial aid program for community college and university students.

 

Bills of Note

  1. Expansion of the OSU-Cascades Campus (HB 2782)

On Tuesday, March 14, the House Higher Education Committee unanimously approved House Bill 2782, which will fully fund the $69.5 million expansion of the OSU-Cascades campus as sought by the OSU Board of Trustees. The bill now goes to the Joint Ways & Means Committee. Consideration of capital funding will likely not occur for another month or two.

  1. OSU Statewide Public Service Programs (SB 805)

On Thursday, March 2, the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee considered SB 805, which would recover $9.4 million in programmatic reductions recommended by the Governor in her budget for the OSU Statewide Public Service Programs. A multiparty letter in support of the Statewides was submitted to the committee. The following Tuesday, March 7, the Senate Committee approved the bill for consideration by the Joint Ways & Means Committee. Advocates will now work with legislators to continue to support the bill.

  1. Open Education Resources (HB 2729)

In the coming weeks, the House Higher Education Committee is expected to approve HB 2729, which would continue funding for open education resources, also known as OERs or “free textbooks.” Despite the significant savings to students that accrue from developing and dispersing OERs, the HECC chose not to seek continued funding for this program.

  1. Veterans Benefits (HB 2565)

Since our last report, the House Higher Education Committee considered HB 2565 and sent it to the House floor for consideration where it was approved by a 57-0 vote. The bill will now head to the Senate for consideration. HB 2565 improves legislation passed during the 2015 session that established a priority registration process for veterans attending public universities and community colleges. Universities and veterans worked together over the last year to ensure that veterans will receive a priority when registering for classes throughout their matriculation, rather than just for the first term of attendance.

  1. Vaccines for Outbreaks (HB 3276)

OSU is working with Rep. Nancy Nathanson (D-Eugene) on a bill that would ensure that vaccines are made available to students and others during major outbreaks of contagious diseases such as meningitis.

  1. University Research Fighting Fund (HB 2582)

On Tuesday, March 14, the House Higher Education Committee considered HB 2582, which would establish a $20 million fund to support universities as they compete for federal grants. A fact sheet regarding the bill can be found here and a multi-party letter of support can be found here.

 

Highlights

On Wednesday, March 1, the Beaver Caucus lobbied legislators in support for increased appropriations for higher education.

On Tuesday, March 2, advocates from across the state came to Salem to support the OSU Statewide Public Service Programs.

 

Emerging Issues: Credit transfers

Legislators are taking a continued and greater interest in seeking to increase the transferability of credits, particularly as students progress from community colleges to the public four-year institutions. This issue has been the subject of concern in previous legislative sessions, but this session legislators are showing an interest in moving beyond simply studying the issue to enacting mandates. The HECC provides a compelling case that transfer students end up needing more credits to graduate with a four-year degree compared to cohorts who matriculate from start to finish at a four-year university.

 

Odds and Ends

  • OSU’s 2017 Legislative Priorities
  • Save the Date: OSU Day at the Capitol (Thursday, April 20)
  • Other legislative issues: The last wave of bills for consideration crossed the transom over the last week. We will have a better sense of all the bills under consideration in the next week. If you would like information regarding a particular bill that may be of interest or if you have questions or comments, please do not hesitate to contact us.

 

Questions? Contact

Jock Mills, Director: jock.mills@oregonstate.edu

Karli Olsen, Coordinator: karli.olsen@oregonstate.edu

The legislature has completed two and half weeks at a quick pace.  This update provides a progress report on some of the key bills and activities important to OSU and higher education.

Ways & Means Field Hearings

Over the last two weekends, members of the Joint Ways & Means Committee have conducted hearings in Salem, Portland, Hermiston and Madras to enable citizens to address concerns about possible funding reductions associated with the state’s projected $1.8 billion shortfall, as well as ways in which the state could increase revenues to close the budget gap.  We deeply appreciate students and advocates who have testified in support of funding for higher education and OSU programs and encourage you to participate in the remaining hearings this month in Ashland, Eugene, and Tillamook. (See details below.)  Topics relevant to OSU addressed during these hearings have so far included:

  • Support for at least a $100 million increase sought by Oregon’s public universities to achieve a comparable level of funding to the current biennium and needed to avoid unaffordable tuition increases. [See a letter from university leadership across the state in support of the $100 million investment here];
  • Recovery of $9.4 million in budget reductions to the OSU Statewide Public Service Programs – the Extension Service, Agricultural Experiment Station, and Forest Research Laboratory [Click here for comprehensive information regarding the advocacy effort aimed at SB 805 for the OSU Statewides];
  • Investment of $69.5 million in state bonds to expand the OSU-Cascades campus [Click here for comprehensive information about the expansion of OSU-Cascades]; and
  • Fully funding the Opportunity Grant – the state’s need-based student financial aid program for community college and university students.

 

Students at the Madras hearing on Saturday, Feb. 18th.

 

Bills of Note

Expansion of the OSU-Cascades Campus (HB 2782)

On Thursday, 2/23, the House Higher Education Committee will consider HB 2782 which will fully fund the $69.5 million expansion of the OSU-Cascades campus as sought by the OSU Board of Trustees.  Advocates from the Central Oregon community will be testifying in support of the bill and meeting with legislators throughout the day.  See information regarding the campus expansion here(OSU support for the full expansion is contingent upon full funding for the capital projects sought by all seven of Oregon’s public universities.)

Statewide Public Service Programs (SB 805)

Despite increasing revenues, the Governor recommended no funding increases for the Oregon State University Statewide Public Service Programs – OSU Extension, Agricultural Experiment Station, and Forest Research Laboratory.  The proposal would erode approximately 70% of the $14 million funding increase achieved by a broad coalition of natural resource, conservation, and human service advocates during the 2015 session.

In response, a bicameral, bipartisan group of legislators has introduced SB 805 which would appropriate a $9.4 million increase for these programs in the 2017-19 biennium to enable them to operate at their continued service level.

See comprehensive information regarding the advocacy effort for the OSU Statewides here.

Open Education Resources (HB 2729)

In 2015 legislators allocated $700K to the Higher Education Coordinating Commission (HECC) to work with universities and colleges to develop open education resources, also known as OERs or “free textbooks.”  Despite the significant savings to students that accrue from developing and dispersing OERs, the HECC chose not to seek continued funding for this program.  Legislators have introduced HB 2729 to continue funding into the 2017-19 biennium, which the House Higher Education Committee will consider on Thursday, 2/23.  At play in considering future funding is the degree to which funding should go to the development of new OERs vs. encouraging faculty at community colleges and universities to use OERs that are already available.  OSU faculty member Lindsay Biga is scheduled to testify on the issue on Thursday.

Veterans Benefits

SB 143:  Using lottery funds made available by Measure 96, which was approved by voters in the November 2016 election, this bill will provide grant funding to universities and community colleges to improve services to veteran-students.  The House and Senate Veterans Committees have both held hearings on the bill and may develop a funding recommendation to be sent to the Joint Ways & Means Committee, which will ultimately consider the bill.

HB 2565:  This bill makes improvements in legislation passed during the 2015 session that established a priority registration process for veterans attending public universities and community colleges.  Universities and veterans worked together over the last year to develop the bill in order to ensure that veterans will receive priority when registering for classes throughout their matriculation, rather than just for the first term of attendance.

Establishment of an Independent Science Board

SB 198:  This bill seeks to enact the recommendations of a task force established by legislation passed during the 2015 session.  On Wednesday 2/22 OSU Associate Dean Dan Edge is slated to testify on the bill before the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee.  The bill involves a biennial expense of approximately $1 million, which may prove problematic for its legislative future.

PERS Reform

Last week OSU provided information to employees regarding PERS reform legislation.  The Senate Workforce Committee has conducted a number of sessions considering the PERS system.  For a memo outlining its proposed process and a power point overview click here.  The memo outlines the criteria the committee will use to evaluate proposed reforms, including:

  • Constitutionality
  • Order of Magnitude in Savings
  • Actuarial Soundness
  • Impact on Employer Contribution Rates
  • Impact on State and Local Budgets
  • Impact on Public Employee Benefits
  • Impact on Public Employee Workforce
  • Equitability of Costs and Benefits to Public Employees
  • Administrative Feasibility

 

Upcoming Events:

  • Monday, February 20th – Kathie Dello, Associate Director of the Oregon Climate Change Research Institute, will present the Third Oregon Climate Assessment Report (2017) to the Senate Environment & Natural Resources Committee.
  • Wednesday, February 22nd – the House Committee on Economic Development and Trade will hold a “Food Industry Overview” informational hearing, which will feature OSU’s Dave Stone discussing OSU’s Food Innovation Center in Portland, and College of Agricultural Sciences Dean Dan Arp discussing OSU’s proposed $18 million Quality Food and Beverage capital investment – $9 million in state bonds matched by $9 million in industry and philanthropic investments. Click Here for a recent release regarding a $1.5 million contribution by the Tillamook Creamery Association toward this project.
  • Wednesday, February 22nd – The Office of Economic Analysis will present the next quarterly state revenue forecast to the Senate Revenue Committee. The forecast will indicate whether revenues are on track to support state funding for the current biennium, while also providing legislators with a more current estimate of state revenues for the 2017-19 biennium.  Although the analysis may show marginal changes up or down in state revenues, the structural issues – PERS and Medicaid costs among them – that significant in the forecasted $1.8 billion shortfall for the next biennium are not expected to change significantly.  For access to the forecast when it is released on Wednesday, click here.
  • House Higher Education committee hearings on OSU-Cascades Expansion and OERs (see above).

 

Remaining Ways & Means Field Hearings

Friday, February 24 — Ashland

5 to 7 p.m.

Rogue River Room

Southern Oregon University

1250 Siskiyou Blvd, Ashland

Saturday, February 25 — Eugene

1 to 3 p.m.

Rooms 308-309 Building 17 (The Forum)

Lane Community College

4000 E 30th Ave, Eugene

Friday, March 3 — Tillamook

6 to 8 p.m.

Officer’s Mess

Port of Tillamook Bay

6825 Officers Row, Tillamook

 

Beaver Caucus Day (Wednesday, March 1)

Head over to the Beaver Caucus website for more about OSU advocates meetings and a reception with legislators in Salem.

OSU Statewides Day (Thursday, March 2)

Advocates from across Oregon will be meeting with legislators throughout the day in support of SB 805, which would recover funding cuts proposed in the Governor’s Recommended Budget for the Extension Service, Agricultural Experiment Station, and the Forest Research Laboratory.

Save the Date:  OSU Day at the Capitol  (Thursday, April 20)

 

For information about OSU’s Legislative Priorities for 2017: 

http://leadership.oregonstate.edu/sites/leadership.oregonstate.edu/files/trustees/agendas-minutes/tab_w_legislative_update.pdf

 

Other legislative issues:  We have identified over 600 bills that may be of interest to the OSU community due to impacts on our education, research and outreach mission.  If you would like information regarding a particular bill that may be of interest or if you have questions or comments, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Jock Mills, Director:  jock.mills@oregonstate.edu

Karli Olsen, Coordinator:  karli.olsen@oregonstate.edu

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Students, Faculty, Staff, and Presidents Call for Increased Funding for Public Universities

In a letter to legislative leaders, students, faculty, staff, and presidents of the public universities called for at least another $100 million in state investments from the level proposed last month by Governor Kate Brown.

Our unified funding request highlights and supports the following reality: To keep tuition increases below five percent at most universities, and also preserve most financial aid and student support services, state investment in the Public University Support Fund (PUSF) will need to increase by at least $100 million above the Governor’s Budget—in the 2017-19 biennium.

You can find a copy of the letter on the OSU Government Relations website and coverage of the accompanying press release in The Oregonian.

 

Legislators Organize for the 2017 Legislative Session

Legislators met last week to organize for the 2017 legislative session, which will begin in earnest on Wednesday, February 1st.  As expected, they elected leadership – Sen. Peter Courtney (D-Salem) will serve in an unprecedented eighth term as Senate President and Rep. Tina Kotek (D-Portland) will serve in her third term as Speaker of the House.  The leaders have announced committee rosters, and the approximately 1,700 bills that had been filed in December are now posted on the legislative website.

The Speaker and Senate President have referred the first wave of bills to the relevant committees for consideration.  We expect two or three more waves of new bills in the coming weeks as legislators complete the drafting process.  We will be notifying various colleges and principals in the next week with information regarding bills that affect OSU’s education, research, and outreach activities.  If there is a particular bill that is of interest or concern to you, don’t hesitate to let us know.

Most higher education-related bills will likely fall under the jurisdiction of the following legislative committees and subcommittees:

Joint Ways & Means Committee

Co-chaired by Sen. Richard Devlin (D-Tualatin) and Rep. Nancy Nathanson (D-Eugene), this committee is responsible for appropriating funds. Its Subcommittee on Capital Construction will determine how the state’s debt capacity will be used to finance long-term construction projects.  The Subcommittee on Education will allocate operating funds across the education continuum from early childhood to post-graduate and career education.  With significant turnover in the House since the 2015 session, House membership and leadership in the Ways & Means process has also changed.

Ways & Means Capital Construction Subcommittee

  • Sen. Fred Girod (R-Stayton), Co-Chair
  • Senate President Peter Courtney (D-Salem)
  • Sen. Richard Devlin (D-Tualatin)
  • Rep. Paul Holvey (D-Eugene), Co-Chair*
  • Rep. John Huffman (R-The Dalles)
  • Speaker Tina Kotek (D-Portland)
  • Rep. Greg Smith (R-Heppner)
  • Rep. Jennifer Williamson (D-Portland)*

*Indicates change from previous legislative session.

Ways & Means Education Subcommittee

  • Sen. Rod Monroe (D-Portland), Co-Chair
  • Sen. Chuck Thomsen (R-Hood River)
  • Sen. Arnie Roblan (D-Coos Bay)
  • Rep. Barbara Smith Warner (D-Portland), Co-Chair*
  • Rep. Diego Hernandez (D-Portland)*
  • Rep. John Lively (D-Eugene)*
  • Rep. Julie Parrish (R-Tualatin/West Linn)*
  • Rep. Gene Whisnant (R-Sunriver)*

*Indicates change from previous legislative session.

The Senate Education and House Higher Education and Workforce Development Committees will consider education policy issues.  While the Senate committee membership has remained fairly static, turnover in the House has resulted in significant changes, including the chair.

Senate Education Committee

  • Sen. Arnie Roblan (D-Coos Bay), Chair
  • Sen. Sara Gelser (D-Corvallis/Albany)
  • Sen. Mark Hass (D-Beaverton)
  • Sen. Dennis Linthicum (R-Klamath Falls), Vice Chair*
  • Sen. Jeff Kruse (R-Roseburg)

*Indicates change from previous legislative session.

House Education and Workforce Development Committee

  • Rep. Jeff Reardon (D-Happy Valley), Chair
  • Rep. Gene Whisnant (R-Sunriver), Vice-Chair
  • Rep.Teresa Alonso Leon (D-Woodburn)*
  • Rep. Dallas Heard (R-Roseburg)*
  • Rep. Janelle Bynum (D-Clackamas)*
  • Rep. Mark Johnson (R-Hood River)
  • Rep. Brian Clem (D-Salem)*
  • Rep. Werner Reschke (R-Klamath Falls)*
  • Rep. Janeen Sollman (D-Hillsboro)*

*Indicates change from previous legislative session.

Rep. Reardon is new to chair a committee, though he served on the committee last session along with Reps. Whisnant and Johnson.  Reps. Alonso Leon, Bynum, Reschke, and Sollman are serving in their first terms.

 

Next Steps in the Budget Process

On Thursday, January 18th, the Ways & Means co-chairs will issue a budget that will reflect a number of changes from the budget Governor Brown proposed in early December.  For one, the co-chairs’ budget will not include new revenues from tax increases since the 3/5 majority required to pass new taxes is not a given.  As a result, state budgets will need to internalize the expected $1.7 billion state revenue short fall.

In addition, the co-chairs’ proposal may hold state agencies at their “continuing service levels” (CSL) – the amount of funding needed to provide the same level of service during the 2017-19 biennium as was provided during the current biennium.  Under this approach, any increases over CSL that the Governor may have created in her budget could be eliminated in addition while also reflecting the statewide shortfall.  Based on comments from Ways & Means Co-Chair Sen. Richard Devlin in a recent report in The Oregonian, it’s possible higher education could see some increases, but certainly not the $100 million sought by the students, faculty and presidents of the seven public universities.

 

OSU’s Legislative Priorities

OSU’s Board of Trustees will consider the university’s legislative priorities for the 2017 session at its meeting on January 20th. You can find a summary here.

 

For more information

To subscribe to our updates, contact Karli Olsen at karli.olsen@oregonstate.edu

If you have questions or thoughts regarding any of the information presented here, contact Jock Mills at jock.mills@oregonstate.edu

Yesterday’s update regarding the Governor’s recommended capital budget had a couple of glitches and should have included a broader discussion regarding the OSU-Cascades project.

OSU-Cascades Campus Expansion

OSU is seeking, and the HECC has recommended, a $69.5 million campus expansion for OSU-Cascades which includes:

  • $20 million in site reclamation and campus infrastructure improvements necessary for construction;
  • $39 million in bonds for a new academic building (matched by $10 million in donor funds);
  • $10 million in bonds (matched by $5 million in student fees); and
  • $500,000 for a renovation of the Graduate Center.

The Governor’s recommended budget included the first $20 million for site preparation and infrastructure improvements.  (This element was endorsed by all seven university presidents.)

Governor Brown’s commitment of $20 million in her recommended capital budget to prepare the construction site for the expansion of the OSU-Cascades campus is a significant step in the right direction.  The university is grateful for her recognition of the need to increase higher education capacity in this underserved region.  Earnest money of this magnitude clearly demonstrates a commitment to expand the campus, but it will not result in improved services to students in the region in the near future.

As the Governor recognized in her comments, the budget involves many difficult decisions.  There is still much to be done to address the needs of students and employers in the Central Oregon region.  Central Oregon is geographically isolated from other universities and OSU-Cascades is well positioned to support HECC’s charge to serve underrepresented, first generation, and rural students.

Another academic building is desperately needed in Central Oregon to accommodate the enrollment growth the region anticipates in the next few years at OSU-Cascades.  At its current capacity the 10-acre campus can serve no more than 1,890 students; enrollment is currently 1,122.

OSU and the Central Oregon region look forward to continuing this conversation with the Governor and Oregon legislators, and working together to find opportunities that could fully fund the project.

 

University Capital Funding

The HECC Agency Request Budget prioritized the original “Tier One” projects recommended by the seven university presidents earlier this year. At the request of the Governor, the HECC also prioritized additional OSU-Cascades projects that had not been included in the Tier One.  In November, UO sought additional state capital as a partial match for its Knight Campus project.  At that time, the HECC raised the rankings of two Cascades projects – the Site Reclamation for $9 million and Infrastructure for $11 million and inserted the Knight Campus project for $100 million at #13.  This resulted in the projects originally ranked at #11 or below all moving down three steps, including the OSU Fairbanks project moving from #13 to #17 (out of a total of 20 projects).

The GRB recommends $269.6 million in capital support.

Funded Projects:

  • ALL – Capital Improvement and Renewal:  $45.7 million
  • PSU – Grad Education Building:  $40.5 million
  • OSU – Quality Food & Beverage Building:  $9 million
  • OSU – Gilkey Hall Renovation:  $3 million
  • EOU – Information Technology Equipment Facility:  $1.2 million
  • OSU – Cordley Hall Renovation Phase I:  $15 million
  • OIT – Cornett Hall Renovation:  $38 million
  • UO – Classroom Building:  $44 million
  • SOU – Central Hall Deferred Maintenance:  $6 million
  • WOU – Oregon Military Building Renovation:  $7.7 million
  • OSU-Cascades – Site Reclamation:  $9 million
  • OSU-Cascades – Infrastructure:  $11 million
  • UO – Knight Campus:  $34 million
  • EOU – Loso Hall Renovation, Phase I:  $5.5 million

New project not previously considered by HECC:

All campuses, including community colleges, campus security measures allocated via competitive bid (based on recommendations by the Governor’s campus security task force):  $15 million

Eliminations:

  • OSU – Fairbanks $11 million
  • OSU-Cascades – Academic Building $39 million
  • OSU-Cascades – Student Success Center $10 million
  • OSU-Cascades – Graduate and Research Center $490,000
  • EOU – Fieldhouse $6 million
  • WOU – IT Building $5.5 million

Reductions:

  • PSU – Graduate School of Education project reduction of $4.5 million
  • OIT – Cornett Hall project reduction of $2 million
  • All – $20 million reduction to $45 million for seven campuses for capital renewal and maintenance (2015-17 funding was at the $65 million level)
  • UO – $66 million deferral of the Knight challenge grant

Governor Brown issued her recommended budget (GRB) for the 2017-19 biennium yesterday.  Facing a projected state budget shortfall of at least $1.4 billion compounded by rising personnel and health care costs, the GRB includes many difficult decisions.  This update provides a summary of the major elements affecting higher education in Oregon.  To review the entire budget document:  http://www.oregon.gov/das/Financial/Documents/2017-19_gb.pdf

In short, despite increasing costs driven by state-mandated employee health and retirement benefit programs, the GRB provides no programmatic increases for the state’s seven universities.  The university presidents, who had sought at least a $100 million increase in order to meet current service levels while keeping tuition increases at a manageable level, issued the following statement:

“Oregon’s public universities commend Governor Brown for prioritizing students and higher education in her recommended budget. Ensuring a college degree is accessible to every Oregonian without taking on a lifetime of debt is how our state will remain vibrant and competitive. With limited resources, Governor Brown took great strides to protect students. The investments outlined in her budget will mean Oregon does not balance its books at the expense of those who are most vulnerable.

“As the Legislature weighs difficult budget choices, we urge lawmakers to increase operating funds beyond the Governor’s budget. By doing so, every campus can keep tuition at a manageable level for the next two years and maintain vital support services that keep students on track to graduate. If we want to enable more Oregonians to earn college degrees at an affordable level of tuition, additional resources will be needed.

“Public universities are educating the workforce and leaders of tomorrow, and we act as incubators of ideas and solutions that can change the world. Oregon must protect students by recognizing that higher education is a fundamental necessity for a robust economy and a living wage. We stand as partners with the state, ready to work with the Legislature and the Governor to address the challenges that lie ahead.”

In comparison, K-12 State School Fund received a 9% increase in funding, for a total of $8 billion.  This figure is approximately $500 million below what the Oregon School Boards Association says local schools need to maintain current service levels.

 

The Public University Support Fund (PUSF)

The PUSF is funded at the 2015 Legislatively Approved Budget (LAB) level of $667.3 million.  Flat funding when costs are increasing means that universities will need to turn to tuition increases, personnel reductions, service cuts, and other actions to balance their budgets. The GRB was a significant improvement over Department of Administrative Services (DAS) internally driven proposals that would have restricted university access to general funds to support retirement and health insurance cost increases.  The Governor sought to shield public universities and students from taking a disproportionate cut, but since nearly 70% of the academic personal costs are born by tuition revenues, 70% of those cost increases will be covered by tuition increases.

The university presidents had sought to insulate students from these cost increases with their request for at least a $100 million general fund increase, which would have driven the PUSF to $765 million.  Now it falls to the legislature to determine whether or how this gap can be filled.  Legislators initially convene in January for organizational purposes, and then go into full business mode the first week of February.

 

OSU Statewide Public Service Programs – Agricultural Experiment Station, Extension Service, and Forest Research Laboratory

The GRB proposes no increases for the OSU Statewide Public Service Programs – the Extension Service, Agricultural Experiment Station, and Forest Research Laboratory, known as the “OSU Statewides.”  This spring, the OSU Board of Trustees sought a $9.4 million continued service level increase for these programs – simply the amount of funding that would be needed to provide the same level of service next biennium as what was provided during the current biennium.

Last session, after a year of activism by a broad coalition of advocates, the legislature approved a $14 million increase for these programs.  The resulting $118 million funding level enabled OSU to hire some 40 new research and extension positions across the state to address significant challenges facing Oregon family farmers, low income families, and Oregon’s natural resources enterprises.  This was a monumental step reversing a 15-year decline when these vital programs were forced to eliminate positions that served a diversity of Oregonians in all 36 counties.

The GRB will have the effect of eliminating nearly 70 percent of the programmatic increases the legislature approved last session.  Because the vast majority of these funds are used to cover personnel costs, the primary tool the Statewides have to manage their costs during budget reductions is through the elimination of positions.

While academic programs at OSU rely on state general funds, they also are able to turn to tuition when the legislature cuts their funding.  The Statewides do not have access to tuition revenues and so feel the full impact of state funding reductions.  However, because many of the Statewides’ positions are “shared appointments” which have both teaching and research responsibilities, there will also be impacts on the university’s education enterprise.  The elimination of research positions also inhibits OSU’s ability to compete for federal funding.  OSU estimates that every state dollar invested in the OSU Statewides leverages nearly $10 in economic benefits to the state.  The Governor’s budget puts these economic returns at significant risk.

It is too early to identify the precise number and location of the positions that could be eliminated as a result of flat-funding the Statewides.  The first step available to program managers is to leave position vacancies un-filled when they occur.  Managing through attrition is not a strategic approach to addressing Oregon’s challenges in the coming biennium, but it is the only practicable alternative currently open to the Statewides.

In order to maintain the same level of service for the Statewides the legislature will need to find $9.4 million in general fund resources.  OSU is committed to work with legislators and the broad coalition of stakeholders who have supported these programs in the past to find practicable solutions for addressing the funding challenges facing the Statewides in the 2017-19 biennium.

Outdoor School:  Due to the passage of Measure 99, which established and funded “Outdoor School” with $44 million in Lottery Funds, the GRB also includes a $44 million increase to the OSU Extension Service which, under the measure, is responsible for administering the funds and developing the curriculum for the program.  OSU has estimated that about $1.6 million of these funds will be needed to meet Extension’s responsibilities under this program.  Despite the ballot measure provisions, the legislature will ultimately make the final funding decisions, both for the amount of lottery funding that will be provided to local school districts and to Extension to administer the program.

 

Other Highlights in the GRB

Sports Lottery (Title IX Scholarships):  The Governor eliminated all funding for this program which under state statutes is supposed to provide 1% (approximately $12.5 million in 2017-19) of the economic development fund from the state lottery fund for scholarships for athletes and graduate students. Most of the scholarships are used to meet Title IX requirements for women athletes.  In previous legislative sessions (including 2015) legislators have capped the funding for this program at $8.2 million.  Previous Governors have also recommended eliminating funding for this program, but have faced legislative opposition.  The seven public universities will mount another campaign in 2017 to recover these funds.  During the current biennium, OSU received $1 million.

Public University State Programs/ETIC:  The GRB essentially provides flat funding for multiple state programs administered by the universities.  Funding for programs that are administered or located at OSU include:

  • OSU Marine Research Vessel Program:  $638,929
  • OSU Fermentation Program:  $1.3 million
  • OSU/UO Center for Advanced Wood Products:  $3.5 million
  • OSU Natural Resources Institute:  $411,420
  • OSU Climate Change Research Institute:  $322,492
  • ETIC Sustainable Funding:  $25.2 million (distributed by a formula to all seven universities; about $14 million to OSU in 2015-17)
  • Signature Research: $1.1 million (distributed among OSU, PSU, and UO; about $500,000 to OSU in 2015-17)

Oregon Talent Council/Oregon Inc./Signature Research Centers:  The GRB indicates the Oregon Talent Council is “winding down” and the work on the Talent Development Plan will be continued by one of the former OTC partners.  It is funded at $200K for one limited duration position in 2017-19.  There is not sufficient detail in the GRB to provide information regarding the other programs.

Student Financial Aid: The Governor increased funding for the Oregon Opportunity Grant by approximately 8% from last biennium, bringing the total funding amount to $151 million.

Community Colleges/Oregon Promise:  The Community College Support Fund was also held at 2015-17 LAB levels at $550 million.  The GRB includes $39.7 million for the Oregon Promise “Free Community College” program, an increase of over $29 million to expand the program to cover two new cohorts of students over the next biennium.

OHSU:  Funding for OHSU is at the 2015-17 LAB levels, consistent with universities and community colleges.

 

Higher Education Coordinating Commission (HECC) Agency Budget

The GRB reduced HECC’s General Fund Budget by 3% from the 2015-17 LAB.  The total funds budget for the agency was reduced by 11%.  The GRB included the following HECC Policy Option Packages (“POPs):

  • Replacement of the Financial Aid Management Information Systems
  • Addition of internal audit and human resources positions
  • Funding for issuance of community college and university bonds

The GRB also included targeted reductions in the HECC budget, including:

  • An 11% reduction in positions through the elimination of limited duration position authority
  • Reductions in personnel services and supplies
  • Reductions in GED, ASPIRE, and match against federal Perkins Loans
  • Reclassification of 3 positions

 

Business Oregon

The Governor’s Budget removes the Small Energy Loan Program (SELP) from the Department of Energy and places it in Business Oregon and includes $2.7M for administration and to initiate a recapitalization of the program.  Specific information regarding the Signature Research Centers is not enumerated in the budget and will be provided at a later date.

 

University Capital Funding

The HECC Agency Request Budget prioritized the original “Tier One” projects recommended by the seven university presidents earlier this year. At the request of the Governor, the HECC also prioritized additional OSU-Cascades projects that had not been included in the Tier One.  In November, UO sought additional state capital as a partial match for its Knight Campus project.  At that time, the HECC raised the rankings of two Cascades projects – the Site Reclamation for $9 million and Infrastructure for $11 million and inserted the Knight Campus project for $100 million at #13.  This resulted in the projects originally ranked at #11 or below all moving down three steps, including the OSU Fairbanks project moving from #13 to #17 (out of a total of 20 projects).

The GRB recommends $269.6 million in capital support.

New Funded Projects:

  • ALL – Capital Improvement and Renewal $45.7 million
  • PSU – Grad Education Building $40.5 million
  • OSU – Quality Food & Beverage Building $9 million
  • OSU – Gilkey Hall Renovation $3 million
  • EOU – Information Technology Equipment Facility $1.2 million
  • OSU – Cordley Hall Renovation Phase I $15 million
  • OIT – Cornett Hall Renovation $38 million
  • UO – Classroom Building $44 million
  • SOU – Central Hall Deferred Maintenance $6 million
  • WOU – Oregon Military Building Renovation $7.7 million
  • OSU-Cascades – Site Reclamation $9 million
  • OSU-Cascades – Infrastructure $11 million
  • UO – Knight Campus $34 million
  • EOU – Loso Hall Renovation, Phase I $5.5 million

Eliminations:

  • OSU – Fairbanks $11 million
  • OSU-Cascades – Academic Building $39 million
  • OSU-Cascades – Student Success Center $10,000
  • OSU-Cascades – Graduate and Research Center $490,000
  • EOU – Fieldhouse $6 million
  • WOU – IT Building $5.5 million

Reductions:

  • PSU – Graduate School of Education project reduction of $4.5 million
  • OIT – Cornett Hall project reduction of $2 million
  • All – $20 million reduction to $45 million for seven campuses for capital renewal and maintenance. (2015-17 funding was at the $65 million level).

No ranking changes except what resulted from project eliminations:  The GRB included capital funding of $75.2 million for eleven projects as well as $15 million in lottery bonds for competitive grants for public safety improvements at Oregon’s public universities and community colleges.

Here is a brief review of Tuesday’s election and its implications for higher education in Oregon as we approach the 2017 legislative session.

Governor’s Race

Democrat Kate Brown defeated Republican Bud Pierce with just over a 50% majority. She carried seven of Oregon’s 36 counties: Columbia, Benton, Hood River, Lane, Lincoln, Multnomah, and Washington. Brown will serve a two-year term, because this was a special election – required to complete the two years remaining in former Governor John Kitzhaber’s fourth term. She is expected to run again in 2018 for a full four-year term. As Oregon approaches the 2017 legislative session, Brown will face her first opportunity to develop her own budget and policy priorities as governor.

 

Secretary of State

With 47% of the vote, Republican Dennis Richardson, who ran unsuccessfully for governor against Kitzhaber in 2014, defeated Democrat Brad Avakian, who is currently serving as Oregon’s Labor Commissioner. The race is notable because it is the first time that a Republican has been elected to a statewide office since 2002, when Gordon Smith won his second term in the US Senate. Richardson carried 30 Oregon counties. Avakian won in the same counties as Brown, less Columbia County, and with significantly smaller margins. For some observers, Richardson’s victory signifies improved chances for the Republicans in the 2018 election, whether it is Richardson for governor, or perhaps a more moderate candidate, if one is able to prevail in the Republican primary.

 

The defeat of Ballot Measure 97 and the budget implications for the 2017-19 biennium

By a margin of some 19 points (59 to 40%), Oregon voters rejected Ballot Measure 97, which would have generated an anticipated $3 billion increase in state general fund revenues from a receipts tax on large corporations. The measure’s defeat leaves Oregon legislators facing a projected $1.4 billion budget deficit – about 8% of the state’s $18 billion general fund budget for the 2017-19 biennium. Following the election, Brown issued the following release:

Post Measure 97, Governor Brown’s Budget Will Prioritize Children, Lifting Families Out of Poverty

“In the coming days, I’ll meet with legislative leaders on both sides of the aisle to discuss budget priorities and next steps in preparation for the 2017 session.

“Following these discussions, on December 1 I’ll release a balanced budget that makes every effort to protect vulnerable Oregonians to the greatest extent possible.

“I will give priority to protecting services for children and helping lift families out of poverty. Given the severe constraints, we will still have to make a number of heartbreaking cuts.

“Looking forward, if we expect to improve our dismal high school graduation rate, help more families achieve self-sufficiency, and keep Oregonians safe and healthy, we need stable and adequate revenue.

“I call on both the proponents and opponents of Measure 97 to find common ground and develop solutions that Oregonians support. As I evaluate potential options, I’ll look for proposals that provide adequate and stable revenue, do not hurt struggling families, and bring increased fairness to Oregon’s tax system.”

Universities respond:  Notably absent from the Governor’s priorities, Oregon’s seven public university presidents also issued a statement calling for a $100 million increase for higher education:

“We understand that yesterday’s vote means some very tough choices lie ahead for the Legislature and the Governor. In the face of these challenges, we believe that by working together we can still keep our public universities affordable for all Oregon students. Now is the time to continue the progress we have made over the last biennium. As our elected leaders weigh difficult budget decisions, we urge them to invest a minimum of $100 million for Oregon’s university students to continue to clamp down on student costs and debt. This investment will allow all campuses to keep tuition increases to a manageable level for the next two years and ensure that students can graduate without taking on a lifetime of debt. Oregon’s public universities are the incubators of ideas and solutions, and we are educating the workforce and leaders of tomorrow. We stand ready to work with legislators and the Governor to address the challenges that lie ahead.”

Next steps:  In early December Brown is required to propose a balanced budget for consideration during the 2017 session. State budget writers have been working on alternatives for the past three months. The Governor’s proposal will be further informed on Wednesday, November 16 when the State Economist issues his third quarter revenue forecast. That forecast will indicate what to expect for the remainder of the current biennium as well as what’s ahead for the biennium that begins on July 1, 2017. For those interested, the forecast will be available here.

 

The Oregon Legislative Assembly

Senate:  Republicans picked up one seat in the Senate, resulting in a 17-13 majority for the Democrats. A total of four new members will join Senate ranks. Two Portland area Democrats – Rep. Kathleen Taylor and Rep. Lew Frederick – will move over from the House. The two other new members are:

  • Alan DeBoer (R-Ashland) – DeBoer, the one Republican pick-up in the Senate, will fill the seat left vacant when Democrat Alan Bates died unexpectedly in August. The Jackson County seat is a “split district” – comprised by two House districts, one held by a Democrat, the other by a Republican. DeBoer is a car dealer and has served as Mayor of Ashland and as a member of the local school board. This seat will be up for election again in 2018 for a full four-year term.
  • Dennis Linthicum (R-Klamath Falls) – Linthicum is a software and large-scale database development manager who is presently a Klamath County Commissioner. He has a bachelor’s degree in Economics from UCLA and a master’s degree from Biola University.

 

House:  Although the House will see a significant increase in its diversity and a turnover of nearly a quarter of its members, the party margin of 35 Democrats and 25 Republicans will remain unchanged. As with the Senate, no changes in leadership are expected. The 14 new House members are:

  • David Brock Smith (R-Port Orford) – Currently serving as a Curry County Commissioner, Smith grew up working in, and currently owns and runs, his family’s restaurant, the Port & Starboard. He attended Southern Oregon Community College and Southern Oregon University.
  • Pam Marsh (D-Ashland) – Marsh is a city council member, small business owner and manager of Ashland’s nonprofit food bank. She was involved in the management and operation of Green Springs Inn and Cabins, which she currently owns and manages with her husband and son. Marsh is a graduate of Southern Oregon University with a BA in Political Science.
  • Julie Fahey (D-Eugene) – Fahey served as Chair of the Lane County Democrats and is currently the Treasurer of the Democratic Party of Oregon. She is co-founder of ThreePoint Consulting, a human resources consulting firm for businesses and non-profits. She is a graduate of Notre Dame.
  • Teresa Alonso Leon (D-Woodburn) – Alonso Leon is a first generation college graduate with a degree from Western Oregon University. She is currently a Woodburn City Council member, and administers GED programs with the Higher Education Coordinating Commission.
  • Ron Noble (R-McMinnville) – Noble is the former chief of Police for the City of McMinnville and is active in his church and community organizations. He attended Oregon State University and Seattle University and was a lieutenant in the Corvallis Police Department.
  • Rich Vial (R-Hillsboro) – Vial, a native Oregonian, is an attorney specializing in condominium and planned community developments. He is a graduate of BYU with a degree in Business and Accounting, and he completed his law degree at Willamette. With a large family, including 7 adoptees from Viet Nam, the Vial family owns a 24 acre farm in Scholls. He has served on the Washington County Planning Commission, Land-Use Advisory Committee, and County Fair Board.
  • Sheri Malstrom (D-Beaverton) – Malstrom has more than 30 years of experience as a public health nurse. She has served on the Oregon Commission on Women and was active in Emerge Oregon. Following the death of her husband, she raised 3 young sons as a single parent. She earned her bachelor’s degree in nursing at OHSU.
  • Janeen Sollman (D-Hillsboro) – Sollman, a Washington county native, has served on the Hillsboro School Board. She works for Vernier Software & Technology, an education software company, based in Washington County.
  • Mark Meek (D-Gladstone) – Meek was the first in his family to graduate high school and then went on to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in management from Park College in Parkville, Missouri. An Air Force Veteran, Meek owns a small real estate and property management business. He has coached high school football and serves on the Clackamas County Planning Commission and Economic Development Commission.
  • Karin Power (D-Milwaukie) – Power is a nonprofit environmental attorney and Milwaukie City Councilor. She is a graduate of Mount Holyoke and earned her law degree from Lewis and Clark.
  • Tawna Sanchez (D-Portland) –Sanchez, born of Shoshone-Bannock, Ute, and Carrizo descent, grew up in Portland. She received a Bachelor’s of Arts from Marylhurst University and a Masters in Social Work from PSU. She is a co-founder of the Native American Youth and Family (NAYA) Center and currently serves as the organization’s Family Services Director and Interim Executive Director. She has helped raise 18 foster children and has served on the Oregon Family Services Review Commission and Oregon Child Welfare Advisory Commission.
  • Diego Hernandez (D-Portland) –Hernandez is a product of East Portland’s public schools and worked his way through the University of Oregon, where he earned a BA in Political Science and Ethnic Studies. He also holds a Masters in Social Work from PSU. He is the first Latino elected to the Reynolds School Board and currently serves on the Oregon Commission on Hispanic Affairs. He is the Co-Executive Director of Momentum Alliance, a nonprofit that develops young civic leaders.
  • Janelle Bynum (D-Happy Valley) – A mother of four children, Bynum owns and operates, with her husband, two McDonalds franchises. She holds an MBA from the University of Michigan, and a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University.
  • Werner Reschke (R-Malin) – Reshke grew up in Beaverton, and, after starting at Judson Baptist College in The Dalles, graduated from Oregon State University with BA (honors) degree in Business Administration. With his wife, Reschke owns a small online marketing agency specializing in web design, cloud development and email marketing. His employment history includes time with Georgia-Pacific, Tektronix, and Xerox.

 

Next Steps

Following Wednesday’s Economic and Revenue Forecast, Governor Brown will put the finishing touches on her Recommended Budget (known as the “GRB”) which is scheduled to be released on Thursday, December 1.

Meanwhile, legislative leaders are putting together committee rosters for the 2017 session. In the Senate, with a turnover of only four members, we do not anticipate significant changes. Sen. Richard Devlin (D-Tualatin) will continue to Co-Chair the Joint Ways & Means Committee.

In the House, Speaker Tina Kotek (D-Portland) is working to assign a significant number of new members to committees and to designate committee chairs to replace a number of veteran legislators who are retiring or moving to different offices. Two questions important to higher education include: Will the House Higher Education Committee be continued into the next session, and if so, who will chair it? And, who will co-chair the Joint Ways & Means Education Subcommittee which oversees the universities’ operating budgets? Rep. Nancy Nathanson (D-Eugene), has already taken the reins from retiring Rep. Peter Buckley (D-Ashland) as co-chair of the full Joint Ways & Means Committee, and will continue in that role in 2017.

Legislative Committees will meet for three days, Monday – Wednesday, December 12-14. Committee agendas will likely include a preview of legislative concepts that will come before the legislature when it convenes in January.

If you have questions or would like further information, contact Jock Mills.

Join the Associated Students of Oregon State University (ASOSU) for a Homecoming Brunch and get your Homecoming weekend off to a great start. The brunch is an opportunity to meet and mingle with current and former ASOSU officers, OSU alums, Beaver Caucus board members, and other OSU friends and supporters.

Let us know you’ll be there and share the event on Facebook!

 

ASOSU Homecoming Brunch presented by the Beaver Caucus

Saturday, Oct. 29

1:00pm-3:00pm

Memorial Union Lounge

This is a no cost event.

 

Please RSVP here. If you have questions, please contact Rebecca McAuliffe at 503-539-2856 or rebeccam@quinnthomas.com.

We look forward to seeing you on October 29th. Go Beavs!

It’s that time of year again! The 2016 Pendleton Round-Up is September 14-17, with OSU-specific events throughout the weekend.

The festivities kick off with the Pendleton Round-Up Dinner and OSU Celebration on Thursday, September 15 at 5:00pm. Join us for dinner at Hamley’s Slickfork Saloon. Register online by September 8.

The fun continues on Friday morning, September 16 with the Cowboy Breakfast and KUMA Coffee Hour radio show at Stillman Park. Tune in to KUMA at 1290 AM or listen online from 8:00-9:00am.

Wear your orange to the Westward Ho! Parade at 10:00am and the rodeo in the afternoon.

The Pendleton Round-Up and Happy Canyon Pageant are offering generous discounts to OSU Alumni for various events. See here for details.

Go Beavs and Let ‘Er Buck!