The 2016 General Election
What happens during the 2017 legislative session will depend on how voters consider a number of measures that will likely be on the November ballot. Most noteworthy of these is IP-28, which would create a state corporate receipts tax. Proponents of the measure claim it will create revenues needed to balance the budget and improve services. Opponents claim the measure will create an unfair and unbalanced state tax structure that will place Oregon businesses in an unfavorable position. The Legislative Revenue Office presented an analysis of the measure to the House and Senate Revenue Committees last month. Proponents of the measure rebutted the analysis in a recent editorial in the Oregonian. (As a public entity, OSU does not take positions on ballot measures.)
May Committee Days
Throughout the year, legislative committees meet on a quarterly basis. Following the February 2016 short session, committees met in May. While a number of committees and task forces will meet occasionally over the summer, the next formal committee session is scheduled for the week of September 19th. Here are some highlights from the committee sessions in May:
- Upon the favorable recommendation of the Senate Rules & Executive Appointments Committee, the full Senate confirmed Governor Brown’s appointment of two new members to the OSU Board of Trustees: OSU Engineering Professor Mike Bailey, past president of the OSU Faculty Senate (filling the position of faculty trustee) and Nike executive and OSU alum Julia Brim Edwards.
- The House and Senate Committees on Veterans and Emergency Preparedness met jointly and considered possible changes in a 2015 bill that called for priority registration for veterans at Oregon’s seven public universities. Working with campus veterans groups, representatives from the seven universities plan to develop recommendations for addressing a variety of veterans-related issues and report back to the committees when they meet in September.
- Governor Kate Brown met with members of the OSU Women’s Basketball team, congratulating them on their historic 2015-16 Final Four season. Senate President Peter Courtney welcomed the team to the Senate chambers. You can see pictures from this visit on the Governor’s Twitter page and the Oregon State Women’s Basketball Facebook page.
Significant Policy and Budget Issues for the 2017-19 Biennium
Over the coming months, our efforts will be aimed at ensuring that legislators, the Governor, and stakeholders are aware of the dividends that have resulted from investments made in higher education during the 2015 legislative session. In preparation for the 2017 session, we will be highlighting how state bonds for campus capital projects and budget increases for student success initiatives and the OSU statewide public service programs (Extension, Agricultural Experiment Station, and Forest Research Laboratory) have significantly improved OSU’s ability to serve Oregonians.
These efforts will be aimed at making the case for continuing investments needed to maintain the level of student success and economic well-being that have resulted from our work during the 2015 legislative session. Here is a summary of seven significant initiatives and policy issues we will be pursuing over the coming months:
- Maintaining Operating Expenditures: All seven public universities are working together to achieve at least a $100 million (15%) increase in operating funds. This would enable universities to keep tuition increases below 5% and also preserve current financial aid and student support services. In April the seven public university presidents sent a letter to the Higher Education Coordinating Commission (HECC) seeking increased funding along these lines. http://oregonstate.edu/government/sites/default/files/consolidatedfundingrequest2017-19.pdf
- Securing New and Renewed Capital for All Seven Universities: All seven presidents have also joined together in supporting $284 million in capital funding for the 2017-19 biennium. At OSU, these projects involve significant capital renewal funds for existing buildings, investments in OSU-Cascades, and a quality food and beverage initiative. http://oregonstate.edu/government/sites/default/files/consolidatedcapitalrequest2017-19.pdf
- Expanding OSU-Cascades: OSU is developing and implementing a strategy for financing the long-term capital expansion of OSU-Cascades. Currently, the state maintains a distinct funding stream for OSU-Cascades operations. We are seeking similar treatment for capital funds in order to achieve the state goal of creating a four-year campus in Central Oregon. While advocating for OSU-Cascades, we have sought to be clear that the state’s decision to establish an eighth campus in Central Oregon should not come at the expense of the existing seven public university campuses in Oregon.
- Maintaining the OSU Statewides: In 2015, the legislature allocated a $14 million increase for the OSU Statewide Public Service Programs (Extension, Agricultural Experiment Station and Forest Research Laboratory). This level of funding needs to be maintained with an appropriate “continuing service level” increase in 2017.
- Improving the Implementation of State Financial Aid Programs: All seven universities are working together to address and resolve significant shifts in financial aid resources that have occurred over the last year. In particular, we are working to understand how state investments in the Oregon Promise program (“free community college”) and changes in the Oregon Opportunity Grant program may affect state funding for low-income students who attend four-year universities.
- Investing in State Economic Development Programs: The research universities are working together to develop and implement a state Economic Development and Research Budget Strategy. These efforts may include investments in inter-connectivity among and between campuses and a re-vamping of the state’s Innovation Council.
- Continuing the Seven Public University Alliance: All seven universities are working together to be responsive and proactive on a wide variety of intricate policy issues likely to present themselves prior to and during the 2017 legislative session.