Oregon governor’s budget released, higher education gets a small boost

**A previous version of this story said there was no increase for higher education in the proposed budget.

Gov. Kate Brown released her proposal for the 2017-19 Oregon governor’s budget on Dec 1. The proposal shows a large increase for K-12 spending over the next two years. However, Brown’s proposed budget does not address the $100 million request for higher education made by the presidents of Oregon’s public universities.

This morning, in an email to students, University of Oregon President Michael Schill stated that UO will face at least a $27.5 million shortfall in the coming year without increased funding.

The proposed budget is focusing on access and affordability, expanding opportunity grant coverage to 85,000 students — 5,000 more than last year.

In March, Schill, along with the presidents of Oregon’s six other public universities, requested that Brown earmark $100 million for higher education.

The presidents’ first petition was made in response to increased Public Employee Retirement System costs. Increased PERS costs are set to cost UO about $6 million next year.

Another request came after the failure of Measure 97 — a gross receipt tax that would have added an estimated $3 billion to the state’s coffers.  The presidents wrote a letter to Brown, emphasizing the importance of higher education funding in the state.

The initial request made no mention of the increased funding helping to keep tuition costs down, but the letter last month addressed PERS costs as well as tuition increases.

“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,” the joint letter said. “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.”

The state must generate $900 million in new revenue in order for the current funding of public universities to remain constant, according to Schill’s email.

In the coming weeks, Schill plans to appoint an “ad hoc budget advisory task force to provide advice and ideas for raising additional revenues and reducing expenses,” according to the email.

Senate Budget Committee members, administrators, faculty, staff members and students will be a part of the committee that will have its first meeting in January.




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Desiree Bergstrom

Desiree Bergstrom