Here is a brief update from your Government Relations Team:

  • HECC recommends capital and operating budgets for the 2019-21 biennium
  • Statewide measures qualify for the November general election ballot
  • An election reminder for public employees

 

HECC recommends capital and operating budgets for the 2019-21 biennium

On Thursday, August 2, the Higher Education Coordinating Commission (HECC) approved recommendations for capital and operating budgets for community colleges and universities, as well as for financial aid programs for the 2019-21 biennium. The next play is in the Governor’s hands as she develops a comprehensive budget proposal due in late November/early December.

 

PUSF:   The HECC approved a base budget for the Public University Support Fund (PUSF) that does not reflect the Current Service Level (CSL) identified by universities but includes policy option packages (POPs) that would increase state spending for higher education from $737 million for the current biennium to $923 million, a 25% increase. University presidents have indicated that at least $867 million is needed to keep tuition increases below 5% for each of the next two years. The HECC proposal would enable much-needed investments in student success and retention at all seven universities.

OSU Statewides:  The HECC recommended a total budget for the OSU Agricultural Experiment Station, Extension and Forest Research Laboratory of $138 million, an increase of 11% over the 2017-19 level. This level is roughly equivalent to “CSL” for the programs but does not fill a $4 million hole created by underfunding for the current biennium. The Statewides are in discussions with a broad range of stakeholders regarding future funding needs for these programs.

Oregon Opportunity Grants:   The HECC also recommended a whopping $107 million (73%) increase in funding for the Oregon Opportunity Grant program — the primary source of state-funded financial aid for university students administered by the Oregon Office of Student Access and Completion (OSAC). While still focused on providing aid to those students with the highest need, the increase will open the program to serve an estimated 16,150 Pell-eligible students currently attending universities and community colleges. Under this funding level, OSAC will be able to maintain a grant amount that is approximately equal to 15% of the average cost of attendance at a 2- or 4- year public college or university.

Capital Construction:   The HECC approved a revised staff ranking of 15 capital projects for the seven universities, totaling $353 million in state bonds for the 2019-21 biennium. For the current biennium, including actions taken during the 2018 session, the legislature approved $339 million in capital funding for university projects. The HECC supported all 15 projects on the list and did not seek to “draw a line” at a recommended dollar figure for capital spending that was less than the total figure.

In order of the HECC’s ranking, OSU-related projects include:

1.  Capital renewal, to be distributed among all seven universities based on a yet-to-be revised formula: $65M, supported by all seven universities

2.  Cordley Hall Renovation: $28M state bonds

6.  Arts & Education Complex: $35M state bonds, matched by an additional $35M in donor funds

11.  OSU-Cascades Student Success Center: $12M state bonds, matched by an additional $5M in student-approved fees

15.  OSU-Cascades Land Development: $17.5M state bonds

For the complete rank ordered list:  https://www.oregon.gov/highered/about/Documents/Commission/COMMISSION/2018/2-August%202018/12.1c%20University%20Capital%20List.pdf

 

Among others, OSU President Ed Ray, ASCC Director of Legislative Affairs Cygnus Simpson, and Now4 OSU-Cascades submitted letters addressing concerns about the current rubric used to rank projects.

In a draft letter to the Governor HECC acknowledged difficulties with the current rubric. For OSU-Cascades it suggested, “modifying the Rubric to reward new construction – especially if the university has provided a mechanism to ensure that it is continually maintained and thereby does not impose future deferred maintenance obligations upon the state.”

The HECC letter to the Governor concludes:

The HECC recognizes that the Rubric is an imperfect tool for prioritizing capital requests, and we are committed to continually examining how it can be improved. The Commission has recently launched a major effort to assess the state’s 10-year university capital needs given the current inventory of public university buildings, demographic and educational trends, workforce needs, and the state’s higher education goals. We expect that the results of this effort will help the Commission become more strategic in future efforts to score and rank university capital requests.

Next Steps:   The focus now turns to the Governor who must prepare a budget for the 2019-21 biennium for legislative consideration. For the current biennium, in December of 2016, the Governor proposed no general fund increases (CSL or otherwise) for public universities. If we have a new Governor, the incoming Governor will have an opportunity to introduce a different budget. The Agency Request Budgets will remain as the starting place, the level of specificity will likely change, and the overall approach may be significantly different.

 

Five statewide measures qualify for the November general election ballot

Measure 102 – Allow Municipal Bond Revenue to Fund Privately Owned Affordable Housing

Certified Ballot Title: Amends Constitution: Allows local bonds for financing affordable housing with nongovernmental entities. Requires voter approval, annual audits

Summary: This measure is a legislative referral (HJR 201). It would amend the state constitution to allow counties, cities, and towns to—with voter approval and certain restrictions—use bond revenue to fund the construction of affordable housing without necessarily retaining complete ownership of the constructed housing. Currently, the state constitution does not allow revenue from bond issues to be used in a project with private owners or stakeholders.

A “yes” vote allows local governments to issue bonds to finance affordable housing with nongovernmental entities.

A “no” vote retrains the constitutional prohibition on local governments raising money for/loaning cred to nongovernmental entities.

 

Measure 103 – Ban Taxes on Groceries

Certified Ballot Title: Amends Constitution: Prohibits taxes/fees based on transactions for “groceries” (defined) enacted after September 2017

Summary: Oregon has no statewide sales tax, but has no law preventing local governments from establishing such a sales tax. Therefore, local governments could enact local taxes. This measure would prevent local governments from establishing taxes on groceries. It would also retroactively prohibit any taxes, fees, or assessments on the sale of groceries adopted or enacted on or after October 1, 2017. Alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana is not included in the definition of groceries.

A “yes” vote amends the state constitution and prohibits state/local taxes/fees based on transactions for groceries.

A “no” vote retains state/local government authority to enact or amend taxes, fees, or transactions on groceries.

 

Measure 104 – Three-Fifths Majority Requirement for Raising Revenue

Certified Ballot Title: Amends Constitution: Expands (beyond taxes) application of requirement that three-fifths legislative majority approve bills raising revenue

Summary: The measure would define “raising revenue” in the state constitution to include changes to tax exemptions, credits, and deductions that result in increased revenue, as well as the creation or increase of taxes and fees.

Presently, the constitution requires a three-fifths vote of the House and Senate to pass bills raising revenue (via Measure 25, 1996). In 2015, the Oregon Supreme Court issued a ruling that the Legislative Counsel said excluded bills to reduce tax breaks, such as exemptions and credits, from the three-fifths vote requirement.

A “yes” vote requires approval of three-fifths majority of both houses of legislature for any fee/tax increase, including changes to exemptions, credits, deductions, rates.

A “no” vote retains current constitutional requirement that three-fifths legislative majority approve bills for raising revenue; does not apply to fees, other increases in revenue.

 

Measure 105 – Repeal Oregon Sanctuary State Law

Certified Ballot Title: Repeals law limiting use of state/local law enforcement resources to enforce federal immigration laws

Summary: The measure would repeal the state law that which forbids state agencies, including law enforcement, from using state resources or personnel to detect or apprehend persons whose only violation of the law is that of federal immigration law.

A “yes” vote repeals law limiting (with exceptions) use of state/local law enforcement resources for “detecting”/“apprehending” persons accused only of violating federal immigration laws.

A “no” vote retains law limiting (with exceptions) use of state/local law enforcement resources for “detecting”/“apprehending” persons accused only of violating federal immigration laws.

 

Measure 106 – Constitutional Ban on Public Funds for Abortion Services

Certified Ballot Title: Amends Constitution: Prohibits spending “public funds” (defined) directly/indirectly for “abortion” (defined); exceptions; reduces abortion access

Summary: The measure would prohibit public funds from being spent on abortions, except when medically necessary or required by federal law. Under the measure, an abortion would qualify as medically necessary if a licensed physician determines that a woman would suffer an injury or death unless an abortion is performed. Under the measure, public funds may be spent on abortions in circumstances of rape or incest or diagnosed ectopic pregnancies.

A “yes” vote amends the constitution, prohibits spending public funds directly or indirectly for any abortion and health plans insurance covering abortion.

A “no” vote retrains current law that places nor restrictions on spending public funds for abortion or health plans covering abortion when approved by a medical professional.

 

Election Reminder

With the approach of the November elections, the information below provides guidance for public employees in their official capacity relating to election and political matters.

Public employees may not engage in certain political activity while on the job during working hours, under ORS 260.432. The statute prohibits public employees from promoting or opposing the adoption of a ballot measure, or a candidate for public office, while on the job during working hours. It also prohibits any person from requiring or attempting to require other public employees to give money, service or anything of value to promote or oppose a ballot measure or a candidate.

The statute does not mean that you give up your individual rights to engage in political activity as a result of your public employment. However, it is important to be clear when you are speaking in your private capacity. The Secretary of State notes that the use of a working title tends to indicate that an employee is acting in the employee’s official capacity. It would be prudent for you to avoid using your OSU title if you promote or oppose candidates or ballot measures. If there is any question about the capacity in which you are speaking or acting, it would also be prudent for you to expressly state that you are speaking and acting in your private capacity and not as an OSU employee.

The Oregon Secretary of State has published valuable guidance on this law, titled “Restrictions on Political Campaigning by Public Employees, ORS 260.432.”  The guidance can be found at:  http://sos.oregon.gov/elections/Documents/restrictions.pdf.

The penalties for non-compliance with this statute are potentially severe. The Secretary of State may impose a civil penalty of up to $1000 for each violation, and the district attorney or a taxpayer may seek recovery of any improper expenditure of public funds in connection with promotion or opposition of a candidate or ballot measure.

If you have any questions about this matter, please feel free to contact the Oregon State University Office of Human Resources at:  human.resources@oregonstate.edu.

This update provides an overview of the legislative candidates for a number of key races as we approach the May 15, 2018 primary election in Oregon.

 

But first, a voter registration reminder:  If you are not currently registered to vote, have moved since the last election, or wish to create or change your party affiliation, you can do so on the Oregon Secretary of State website:  http://sos.oregon.gov/voting/Pages/voteinor.aspx. In order to participate in the primary, you must register (and designate a party if you are currently unaffiliated[*]) by Tuesday, April 24.

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The 2018 short session ended more than a week early when legislators called for sine die on March 3rd. This update provides information about:

  • How OSU’s legislative priorities fared
  • Bills of note
  • What’s ahead as we prepare for the 2019 session

 

OSU’s Legislative Priorities

OSU entered the session seeking $39 million in bonding for a second academic building on the OSU-Cascades campus and $3 million to match a $35 million U.S. Department of Energy grant to establish a marine energy test bed off the coast of Oregon near Newport. With the help of a wide range of principals and advocates, the legislature approved funding for both.

OSU-Cascades:  OSU-Cascades was a team effort, beginning with Governor Kate Brown who, in December, sought funding for OSU-Cascades along with projects at the University of Oregon and Eastern Oregon University.

Key legislators were also supportive, including Speaker Tina Kotek (D-North Portland), who expressed support early on in the session, and Senator Tim Knopp (R-Bend), who has advocated for the campus beginning with its inception in the 2001 legislative session. Rep. Knopp was joined by his legislative colleagues from Central Oregon including Reps. Gene Whisnant (R-Sunriver), who participated on the Ways & Means Committee and carried the capital funding bill on the floor; Rep. Knute Buehler (R-Bend), who sponsored the bill that sought funding for OSU-Cascades during the 2017 session; and Rep. Mike McLane (R-Powell Butte). Rep. Dan Rayfield (D-Corvallis) helped orchestrate a letter signed by 35 legislators in support of the OSU-Cascades expansion and the projects at UO and EOU. The Oregon Council of Presidents, which includes the presidents of all seven public universities, also supported the Governor’s request in a letter to legislative leadership.

Now4 OSU-Cascades, a non-partisan organization of citizen supporters led by Amy Tykeson and Janie Teater, turned out advocates who made the six-hour round-trip multiple times to testify for a few minutes before the various legislative committees considering the project. In addition to Teater and Tykeson, key among the Central Oregon advocates were Katy Brooks, President of the Bend Chamber of Commerce, and OSU-Cascades students Gabby Bangert, Melanie Widmer, and Lynnea Fredrickson.

The Beaver Caucus, a non-partisan volunteer organization of OSU advocates, chaired by Bill Perry, also joined in support for the campus expansion during both the 2017 and 2018 legislative sessions. Advocates spent a productive day meeting with legislators prior to the 2018 session.

The legislature also approved $9 million in lottery bonds for a field house at EOU, $20 million in general obligation bonds for the Knight Science Campus at UO, and $2.8 million in general obligation bonds to replace a boiler at Southern Oregon University.

Finally, the legislature adopted a budget note asking the Higher Education Coordinating Commission (HECC) to take a stronger role in evaluating university capital projects:

“The Higher Education Coordinating Commission is directed to report to the Emergency Board in May 2018 on the statewide criteria developed to evaluate and prioritize Public University capital requests that are proposed in the agency’s request budget. The criteria and evaluation process should provide, at a minimum, comparable information across projects, objective analysis of each request, and prioritization of deferred maintenance activities.”

OSU plans to work with the Commission in the coming months as it responds to the legislative request and as it evaluates projects for the 2019-21 biennium.

Wave Energy:  Funding for the wave energy project was also a collaborative effort spurred by Sen. Arnie Roblan (D-Coos Bay). The Coastal Caucus, including Sens. Roblan, Betsy Johnson (D-Scappoose) and Reps. Deborah Boone (D-Cannon Beach), David Gomberg (D-Lincoln City), Caddie McKeown (D-Coos Bay), and David Brock Smith (R-Port Orford), joined together in support of this project. Debra Smith, general manager for the Central Lincoln People’s Utility District and Lincoln County Commissioner Terry Thompson were also key supporters throughout our advocacy efforts. Legislators approved a budget note in the funding bill for the wave energy center calling for an additional $1.6 million in the 2019 session to complete the state match. OSU is working to raise an additional $4.6 million in industry and philanthropic support.

 

Bills of Note

Here is a listing of a number of bills that were approved during the short session:

HB 4089 – Industrial Hemp:  Enables OSU to conduct research on industrial hemp cultivation and utilization and establishes a hemp seed certification program through our College of Agriculture.

HB 4141 – Tuition Setting:  Requires each public university to establish an advisory body on resident tuition and mandatory enrollment fees. The advisory body must have at least two administrators, two faculty members, two students from the recognized student government, and two students representing historically underserved students of the university. The public universities worked hard to make this bill workable, with the understanding that there will be no bills changing the tuition-setting process in 2019.

HB 4053 – Accelerated Credit Reporting:  Directs the Chief Education Office, in collaboration with the HECC to prepare an annual report on accelerated college credit programs. The first report is due in December, 2018. The legislature did not appropriate any funding for the universities to complete this work. We anticipate credit transfer issues will persist during the interim and into the 2019 session.

SB 1563 – Tuition Equity:  Removes the requirement that students who are not citizens or lawful permanent residents apply for official federal identification documents to be eligible for exemption from paying nonresident tuition at public universities. This bill enables universities to provide institutional financial aid to DACA students.

HCR 206 – OSU 150:  Congratulates Oregon State University on our 150th anniversary. Passed unanimously in both chambers!

HB 4014 – Tuition Waivers for Former Foster Youth Fix:  Removes the requirement that foster children or former foster children complete a certain number of volunteer services hours during the previous academic year to qualify for tuition waivers.

HB 4035 – Tuition Assistance for Members of the National Guard:  Establishes a tuition assistance program for qualified Oregon National Guard members qualified participants who maintain a GPA of at least 2.0 and are attending an Oregon community college or public university. The legislature allocated $2.5 million to the HECC for tuition assistance payments.

HB 4056 – Scholarships for Children of Deceased or Disabled Public Safety Officers:  Designates 10 percent of forfeiture proceeds for a scholarship program for children of fallen or disabled public safety officers.

SB 1554 – Disregards 529 Accounts for Purposes of Financial Aid:  Requires the HECC to conduct a study of the effects of excluding savings account balances on state and institutional financial aid programs (529 college savings plans) and submit a report to legislature by December 1, 2018.

SB 1557 – Protections for Students called to Duty for less than 30 Days:  Requires community colleges, public universities, and Oregon Health and Science University to provide certain rights to students ordered to federal or state active duty for 30 or fewer consecutive days.

SB 1507 and HB 4001 – Carbon Cap & Invest: These high profile bills to establish a state carbon “cap & invest” system made it through the committees on party line votes and died after referral to the Rules Committees in each chamber. In the final spending bill, however, the legislature appropriated $1.4 million to create a Carbon Policy Office in the Department of Administrative Services.

 

Looking Toward 2019

During the short session, public universities sought to inform legislators about our continuing budget challenges as we approach the 2019-21 biennium. We will need at least a $130 million increase over our current $736.8 million appropriation to keep from having to raise tuition by more than 5%. This amount will not provide for any programmatic increases. And this amount will continue to require students to pay for many of our cost-drivers, such as the Public Employees Retirement System (PERS) and employee health benefits.

Candidate filings:  March 6th also marked the passage of the deadline for filing for election for the May 15th primary election. In our next update, we will provide a rundown of a number of the changes we may see in the membership of the two legislative chambers in 2019. In the House, seven current representatives (12% of the membership) have chosen to retire and will not be running this year. An additional five members appointed to their seats over the last year will be running for the first time. The Senate will include at least two new members (7% of the membership) due to a resignation and a retirement. An additional three current members appointed to the Senate over the last year will be running for the first time as Senators in the 2018 election.

With the adjournment of the 2017 legislative session last Friday afternoon, this issue provides a summary of the session, including:

  • The big picture and a prognosis for the next year;
  • How OSU’s legislative priorities fared;
  • Other bills that captured our attention and time; and
  • Acknowledgements for all the help we received over the last seven months.

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This issue provides an update and summary of some of the major budget decisions affecting Oregon’s public universities. Last week when the Governor and House and Senate leaders announced they could not reach an agreement on revenue reform this session, both chambers started moving pell-mell for the exits, with the hope to adjourn well before the July 10 constitutional deadline. The legislature will be working through the weekend and, if necessary, over the 4th of July holiday.

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This report provides a summary of recent actions and proposals on a wide range of issues, including a rundown of some key bills under consideration as the legislature gradually nears it July 10 deadline for adjournment. As the legislature nears adjournment, leaders are taking a number of steps to speed things up.  On Monday, Senate President Courtney announced that committees are now on “one-hour notice,” meaning that instead of waiting the normal 48 hours after posting an agenda, committees may now meet with an hour’s notice. This Friday, June 2 marks the last day committees in each chamber may approve bills from the other chamber. Following the committee deadline, policy committees may hold informational hearings, but their work in approving any further legislation is concluded. The only committees remaining in operation for the purpose of considering legislation will be the Joint Ways & Means Committee and the Revenue Committees and Rules Committees in the House and Senate.

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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.

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