On Saturday, June 26, the Oregon Legislature adjourned an unprecedented session. Not only did the Legislature deal with large policy issues related to the pandemic, policing reform, wildfire preparation and more, all the committee work was done remotely and the Capital remained closed to the public for the entire session.

OSU’s Government Relations team would like to extend our appreciation to our advocacy partners both on and off campus.  During the session, OSU hosted four virtual stakeholder advocacy days, drawing more than 100 participants from every corner of the state to talk about higher education funding, OSU-Cascades, OSU Statewides and OSU Extension 4-H programing. Through these efforts, stakeholders communicated with all 90 legislators, with our partners at The Beaver Caucus facilitating 277 volunteer advocate emails to legislators. Even in the virtual environment, the presence of OSU’s citizen legislative advocates was meaningful in Salem.

The legislature approved increased funding for student financial aid and Oregon State University programs serving student success, research, OSU Extension and outreach programs statewide, and bonding for key building projects at OSU’s Corvallis and Bend campuses.

“I’m very grateful for the increased support of public higher education by Gov. Kate Brown and Oregon legislators,” said OSU Interim President Becky Johnson. “This support will greatly contribute to student success and graduation, while also advancing the valued statewide work of the OSU Extension Service and OSU research innovation and discovery that serves Oregonians, communities and our state’s economy.”

Higher Education Funding

The following are important investments made by the Legislature in higher education, financial aid, research, and Extension.

Programmatic FundingOutcome
Public University Support Fundsupports operating costs at all seven public universities
$900 million (7.5% increase)
Oregon Opportunity Grant financial aid program for low-income students
$200 million ($28.8m increase)
Statewide Public Service ProgramsOSU Extension, Ag. Experiment Station, and Forest Research Lab$151.9m for Statewides (5.88% increase) $4.35m for Statewides Facilities (transfer from PUSF)
State Programsfor OSU: Engineering Technology Sustaining Fund, TallWood Design Institute, Fermentation Science, Signature Research, Marine Vessel Program, Institute for Natural Resources, Oregon Climate Change Research Institute, Oregon Veterinary Diagnostic Lab$44.9m for ongoing State Programs (5.88% increase) $2.99m for OVDL (transfer from PUSF)
University Innovation Research Fund federal grant matching fund program in Business Oregon budget$5 million
Oregon Outdoor School K-12 program administered through OSU Extension$49.4m (full funding based on May lottery revenue forecast)
Sports Lotteryfunding for graduate scholarships and women’s programming in athletics departments$16.5m (full funding based on May lottery revenue forecast, $1.2m to OSU)
Campus Veteran’s Resource Grantsprogram in Oregon Department of Veteran’s Affairs to support veteran’s resources on campus$600k (reduction of $400k from 19-21)
Strong Start Program funding for public universities’ summer bridge programs for students entering Fall 2021$4.7m in HECC budget $1.5m from Federal Aid ($500k to OSU)
Wine Smoke Lab increase capacity for testing of wine grapes and other agricultural crops subject to wildfire smoke$2.68m
Berry Researchprogram for strawberry grower support at North Willamette Ext. and funding for four students$150k
Avian deaths & wind energystudy in consultation with the Oregon Department of Energy $427k
OSU-Cascades childcare center – Little Kits Early Learning in coordination with COCC$1m ARPA (federal) funds
Wheat Researchlab upgrades at Columbia Basin Ag. Research Center$100k ARPA (federal)funds
Capital ConstructionOutcome
Shared Capital Renewal Fund$80m XI-Q bonds
Cordley Hall Renovation$86m XI-Q and XI-G bonds
OSU-Cascades Student Success Center$13.8m XI-Q and XI-G bonds
Reser Stadium West Grandstands$40m XI-F bonds (self-financed)

Higher Education and Research Policy

This legislature showed significant interest in higher education policyand governance this session. Some major policies that have been under consideration for several legislative cycles found progress and ultimately passed.

Policy bills with direct fundingOutcome
Benefits Navigatorsfunds advising staff at all colleges and universities to assist students access public benefitsHB 2835: Passed, supporting ($4.9m)
Part-time Faculty Health Carecreating dedicated healthcare insurance program for faculty who work at multiple campusesSB 551: Passed, concerns about implementation ($12.9m for insurance program)
Wildfire Research & MappingOSU to support statewide efforts to mitigate and prepare for wildfireSB 762: Passed, $165k for Institute of Natural Resources and $950k for the College of Forestry for mapping and hosting statewide risk map. $23k to OSU Extension to support the Wildfire Programs Advisory Council and the potential to contract with Oregon Dept. of Forestry for add. collab.
Ocean Acidification & Hypoxia Researchfunding to support three OSU projects: Molluskan Broodstock, sampling along Hydrographic line and monitoring ocean acidificationHB 3114: Passed, supporting ($370k to OSU)
Meat Lab Upgrades – funding to upgrade facilities at Clark Meat LabHB 2785: passed, supporting ($300k)
Policy bills with no direct fundingOutcome
Credit Transferestablishes Transfer Council and common course numbering processSB 233: Passed, funding for HECC and transfer portal, unfunded fiscal for universities
University Venture Development Fund6-year tax credit extension to support donations to innovation programs at universitiesHB 2433: Passed, supporting
Student Voices Bill statewide taskforce on underrepresented students to tour state and develop funding recommendationsHB 2590: passed, supporting
Student Athlete Name, Image and Likenessallows student athlete to contract and benefit from a third party for usage of their name, image, and likenessSB 5: Passed, supporting (unfunded fiscal)
On-time Textbook Adoption – requires colleges and universities to post textbook selections for the subsequent term by the day of registrationHB 2919: Passed, supporting (unfunded fiscal)
GED placement allows students who graduated with a ‘college ready’ score on the GED to bypass certain placement testsHB 2589: Passed, supporting
Menstrual Dignity Act requires all public K-12, colleges, and universities to supply menstrual products in bathrooms at no costHB 3294: Passed (unfunded fiscal)
COFA student tuition requires students from Compact of Free Association nations be granted in-state tuitionSB 553: Passed, supporting
Student Incidental Fee Authority & Processclarifies process for adopting student incidental feesHB 3012: Passed, supporting
Student and University Fee Transparencyrequires mandatory students fees be prominently displayedHB 2542: Passed, supporting
Student Parent Datarequires a question be added to university forms identifying student parentsSB 564: Passed, supporting
Conviction disclosure (admission ‘ban the box’)prohibits colleges and universities to ask about former criminal convictions for the purposes of admission except in certain programsSB 713: Passed, supporting
Hemp Commission and State Plan creation of a hemp commodity commission and state plan to support industry and researchHB 2284: Passed, supporting HB 3000 (includes state plan): Passed
Non-traditional Educator Pathwaysallows for non-university educator preparation programs to offer non-traditional pathways to licensureHB 2166: Passed
Multiple Measures of Educator Assessment requires educator preparation programs conduct multiple assessments for teacher candidacy                                                                         HB 3354: Passed
General Counsel Reportingrequires universities to report to Attorney General on use of outside counselHB 2214: Passed

Remaining Items

Overall, the 2021 legislative session was successful for Oregon State University, higher education, and Oregon students. However, a few issues remain unresolved and will need continued work in the interim.

Harvest Tax – For decades, a portion of the Harvest Tax, which is a tax on harvested timber, has gone to the OSU College of Forestry. Every legislative session the tax is extended, and the rate is reset depending on projected timber harvest and programing needs. Due to political issues, the Legislature could not agree upon a bill to extend the Harvest Tax, resulting in a sunset of the tax. The dismantling of this unique funding source leaves the College of Forestry with a significant revenue gap. Commitments have been made by legislative leadership to address the issue in a future session by using general funds to back fill the budget shortfall for OSU.

Statewides & State Programs budgets – These program areas did not receive their full continuing service level requests to maintain the same level of programing and services as previous years. We will be prioritizing the full funding of these programs in the 2022 short session.

Governance There were several bills filed this session that demonstrated a desire from legislators to have a conversation around university governance. The Oregon Public Universities have committed to engage the Association of Governing Boards and legislators in a discussion around governance and best practices during the interim.

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