Legislative Update
Author: Government Relations
Posted: April 4, 2009

Welcome to the PSU Legislative Update.  While this information has been sent via email, this update marks a return to the PSU website for the first time in nearly two months.  During the transition to a new website "backend" Government Relations was unable to post information here.  Bear with us in case there are any glitches.

Congress Moves Forward With Budget
Both the US House and Senate passed a $3.5 trillion budget and will conference their versions in the coming weeks.  The Budget included major changes to our nation's health care and education policies, which mirror President Obama's proposed budget.  The bill also allows the expiration of the Bush-era tax cuts.  This budget will act as a road map for the appropriations process for Fiscal Year 2010.

Legislature Releases Cut Scenario   
This afternoon the legislature released a 30% budget cut scenario for almost all state agencies, excluding the Oregon University System.  The Legislature asked all agencies to provide this information though it is our hope and belief that cuts will not ultimately be made this deep.   While cuts from higher education were excluded from the release today, those cuts are expected to be released early next week, pending review from the State Board of Higher Education today.

Once the May 15 revenue forecast is released, the legislature will likely have a better understanding of the level of cuts that the OUS will have to take; but this is not a certainty.  Any revenue generating proposals will also have an impact on the level of cuts. We don't know what all of those proposals are at this time; there has been some talk of gas or cigarette taxes, corporate minimum increase, and provider taxes; but this is still an unknown.
To see the full list of cuts, please visit the Legislative Fiscal Office Website.  Higher education’s cuts will be on the website Monday, though all other information is available now.

Update on the above:

During yesterday’s Oregon University System board meeting in Monmouth, Chancellor George Pernsteiner brought the 30% budget cut scenario for OUS to the board. Pernsteiner noted that given the federal stimulus dollars that will come to the state, that a 30% cut is unlikely, but a significant cut at a lower level is likely. At the 30% cut scenario level, which would be about $285 million, the Chancellor asked the Board to approve the following cut options:

  • Provide to LFO a reaffirmation of the policy decision that tuition increases for resident undergraduates that are higher than 3.6% per year will include a 30% set aside for need-based financial aid;
  • Priority will be given to programs related to instruction, support of students and research;
  • Campus public services will be reduced by more than 30%;
  • Funding for the OSU-Cascades campus will be reduced by more than 30%;
  • To help insure financial sustainability of OUS’ smaller campuses, that their support be reduced by less than 30%, and that services and academic programs be limited to those needed in that region; and that salary costs shall be reduced by 4.6% for 2009- 11.

The Board approved these elements as those to be provided to the LFO as part of the 30% cut scenario.

Dental Clinics
This week SB 117 passed the Senate Committee on Health Care and Veterans’ Affairs.  Oregon’s Dental Practices Act requires that a dental practice be owned by a dentist (with a few exceptions).  SB 117 would provide an exemption for the Oregon University System to allow Portland State University to continue operating its existing clinic, which currently serves over 300 low students per year.

Higher Education Caucus Convenes   
The newly formed, bi-partisan, bi-cameral Higher Education Caucus has scheduled its first meeting for Thursday, April 9th.  Co-Chaired by Senator Vicki Walker, Senator Frank Morse, Representative Larry Galizio, and Representative Greg Smith, the Caucus is expected to improve the legislature’s understanding of the issues facing Oregon’s public universities and the 80,000 students who attend them.

Upcoming Town Hall Meetings
We periodically include Town Hall meeting notices in this newsletter.  To sign up directly for newsletters from your legislator, please visit the sign up page on the legislative website.

Senator Nelson and Representative Jenson Video Conference
Where: Board Room, Blue Mountain Community College
When: Thursday, April 2, 7:00 - 8:00 a.m.

Senators Jackie Dingfelder, Richard Devlin, and Margaret Carter, and Representatives Ben Cannon and Michael Dembrow
Where: PCC Southeast Center, 2305 SE 82nd Ave in Portland
When: Thursday, April 2nd, 7 - 8:30 pm

Senator Ginny Burdick and Representative Larry Galizio
Where: City of Tigard Meeting Room, 13125 SW Hall Blvd in Tigard
When: Saturday, April 4th, 10:00 a.m.

Representatives Greenlick and Nolan
Where: Helvetia Tavern 10275 NW. Helvetia Rd in Hillsboro
When: Saturday, April 4th at 9am

Senator Laurie Monnes Anderson and US Senator Ron Wyden
Where: Gresham-Multnomah County Library, 385 NW Miller Ave in Gresham
When: Sunday, April 5, 2009, 1:00pm-2:30pm

Representative Michael Dembrow
Where: Manhattan Café, 2735 NE Broadway in Portland
When: Saturday, April 11th, 9-10:30am

Representative Sara Gelser
Where: Sunnyside Up Café in Corvallis, 116 NW 3rd St in Corvallis
When: Saturday, April 18th, 9:00 am

Representative Sherri Sprenger
Where: Lebanon Senior Center, 65 Academy St # B in Lebanon
When: Tuesday, April 21st, 7:00 pm

Representative Suzanne VanOrman and Speaker of the House Dave Hunt
Where: Sandy City Hall, 39250 Pioneer Blvd, Sandy, OR
When: Thursday, May 7th at 6:30 pm