Review of higher ed budgets and other issues moving in Salem

The Oregon Capitol building

The Oregon Legislature in nearing the halfway point of the 2017 session and issues of importance to the University of Oregon and higher education continue to move through the legislative process.

On April 12 and 13, the seven public universities provided two days of presentations to the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Education. The first day focused on the unified operating budget request for a $100 million increase in the Public University Support Fund, which is administered by the Higher Education Coordinating Commission. If the Legislature prioritizes Oregon students and fulfills the $100 million request, the University of Oregon’s proposed tuition increase for the 2017-18 academic year would automatically fall from 10.6 percent for resident undergraduate students to 5.1 percent.

The second day of budget presentations outlined the universities’ unified request for funding for state programs and the sports lottery. Funding for UO state programs include the Labor Education Research Center, clinical legal education, dispute resolution programs and the TallWood Design Institute.

The sports lottery was eliminated in the governor’s 2017-19 recommended budget, and is the primary way campuses are able to meet Title IX requirements to equitably fund women’s athletics programs. It is also the only source of publicly funded graduate academic scholarships in the state.

The larger dynamics of the state budget remain in flux. Several major issues must be addressed prior to the Legislature adjourning by July 10. Those include potential revenue measures, cost containment, reform to the Public Employees Retirement System, a transportation package, health care reform— including a health provider tax — and housing affordability.