UO State Affairs News

  • Revenue forecast released; higher education leaders call for increased investments in students

    On May 15, the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis released its quarterly economic and revenue forecast. This is the forecast that lawmakers will use to make final budget decisions this session. The level of funding in the Public University Support Fund will receive is heavily reliant on this forecast. It’s clear that Oregon’s economy is currently on solid ground. According to the report, “Economic gains over the upcoming 2019-21 biennium will be more in-line with underlying growth in the labor force and productivity. Encouragingly, the latter has shown signs of life recently due to the tighter labor market. The recent escalation in the trade war is a wildcard. It is too soon to know how disruptive it may be to global supply chains as developments are ongoing.” Here’s the bottom line: Projected net General Fund resources are up $883 million, which provides undeniable certainty that the Legislature has the necessary funds to invest in tuition stability, reduce student debt and strengthen the entire education continuum in Oregon. Including Lottery revenues, net resources are up $908 million. Oregon’s unique kicker law has been triggered for both personal and corporate taxes. A record (in dollar terms) $1.4 billion personal kicker is projected for 2019-21, while corporate tax revenue of $616 million is projected to be dedicated to K-12 education spending. This means that Oregonians will receive a kicker credit on their taxes next year. Students and families across the state are counting on the Legislature to keep the cost of a college degree affordable and expand scholarships for Pell-eligible and historically underserved Oregonians so their dreams into degrees.  Moreover, Oregon businesses need the trained workforce that our community colleges and universities provide. You can read more about the quarterly revenue forecast and economic outlook here.

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  • Update from Salem: Student Success Act passes; vaccine and gun measures lose steam

    On May 13, the Oregon State Senate passed HB 3427, known as the Student Success Act, which will raise approximately $2 billion for early childhood and K-12 schools on an ongoing basis. This bill was the culmination of the work of the Joint Committee on Student Success (JCSS), which was established in January 2018. The JCSS was tasked with creating a plan to improve outcomes for students throughout Oregon. HB 3427 establishes the Fund for Student Success (FSS), the Student Investment Account (SIA), the Early Learning Account (ELA), and the Statewide Education Initiatives Account (SEIA). It requires funds to be spent on increasing learning time, decreasing class size, offering a well-rounded education, and student health or safety. According to Oregon Public Broadcasting, “At least half would go to grants to state school districts for programs aimed at improving things such as graduation rates, reading levels and attendance. Around 20 percent would fund early childhood learning programs. The remaining roughly 30 percent would fund career-technical education programs and free meals at school for low-income students, among other things.” More information about the bill can be found here. The measure pays for the new investments in early childhood and K12 education through a reduction in personal income tax rates for the lowest three tax brackets in Oregon by 0.25 percent, as well as establishes a modified commercial activities tax of 0.57 percent on Oregon commercial activity over $1 million. The House passed the Student Success Act previously, so the bill now heads to the Governor’s desk for her signature and final approval. All this came on the heels of the Senate Republican Caucus denying quorum to hold up any further activity in order to negotiate a deal on other policy and budget priorities. The standoff lasted four days and resulted in the death of two controversial of pieces of legislation. The first is HB 3063, which would end non-medical vaccine exemptions. The second is SB 978, a bill that strengths several gun control laws, including safe storage, fees, carrying in public buildings and real estate (including public universities), museum transfers, and more.

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  • UO students, faculty lobby for higher education funding at state Capitol

    First published in the Register Guard, more than 100 University of Oregon students, faculty and alumni traveled to Salem last week for UO Lobby Day to push state lawmakers for more higher education funding this legislative session. It was the biggest turnout for the UO’s annual event in the past few years with 115 UO stakeholders who got involved, about half of which were students. “We try and be strategic based on committee. So of course we meet with the Eugene legislative delegation,” said Libby Batlan, associate vice president of state and community affairs for the UO. “We also target members on the joint committee on Ways and Means, budget writing committee, and House and Senate Education Policy committee.” The purpose of the trip was two-fold: to make the case to lawmakers to invest in UO to keep tuition affordable and to explain the impact of the UO on the legislators’ districts — whether it be the number of students from their district who attend UO, the businesses who contribute or benefit from partnerships and student spending, etc. “So helping legislators understand the broader impact of the university and the footprint the university has on the state and rely reinforcing the direct connection between state funding and college affordability,” said Hans Bernard, assistant vice president for state affairs at UO. Batlan said they begin planning this event six months in advance, but this year the state Capitol was more crowded than expected with people lobbying for education funding. K-12 teachers across the state flooded Salem after holding local rallies in Portland, Eugene and Bend as they walked out of class to protest the need for more funding. The two groups and interests didn’t clash though, said Batlan, because UO’s lobbying efforts ended about the time K-12 teachers started rallying on the Capitol steps. However, the day did take a turn when Senate Republican legislators staged a walkout of their own from the Senate floor May 6 to avoid voting on the Student Success Act, which would earmark $2 million per biennium for Oregon’s public schools through a proposed half a percent tax on businesses. Senate Republicans ended a weeklong walkout Monday and returned to the Oregon Capitol after the governor and Democratic leadership agreed to major concessions. Republicans returned to the Senate, and the chamber was able to approve a $1 billion per year school funding tax by an 18-11 vote. It previously passed the House and now heads to Gov. Kate Brown for her signature. Bernard said he believes the timing of UO’s Lobby Day was crucial to getting in front of legislators before they make final budget decisions at the end of the session. “The Red for Ed and UO at the Capitol were coordinated and I think our hope is that the investment for K-12 and investment higher ed will be coordinated (as well),” Bernard said. Follow Jordyn Brown on Twitter @thejordynbrown or email at jbrown@registerguard.com   https://www.registerguard.com/news/20190514/uo-students-faculty-lobby-for-higher-education-funding-at-state-capitol

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  • More than 100 advocates lobby state legislators for increased funding

    On Wednesday, May 8, more than 110 students, alumni, faculty members and staff from the University of Oregon traveled to the state Capitol in Salem to lobby legislators for increased funding for the UO and higher education. Advocates told lawmakers and their staffs that public universities need the Public University Support Fund to grow by at least $120 million to keep tuition increases at or below 5 percent next year. The UO receives approximately 22 percent of the state fund based on a formula established by the Higher Education Coordinating Commission. The fund is currently budgeted at $737 million for the 2017-19 biennium. That level of funding reflects increases since 2015, but it is still below prerecession funding levels. Oregon is now ranked 37th in the nation for state funding per student, according to data from the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association. “It was so exciting to see so many students turn out to engage in political advocacy,” said Maria A. Gallegos-Chacón, the UO student body president. “I hope that legislators also took note of the sacrifices students took to be talking to them today by missing class, work and using their time to let legislators how critical it is we be taken into account. “Overall, I am disappointed with the lack of public support for higher education investment on behalf of legislators. I hope legislators will take funding seriously when it comes to cradle-to-career education and not just say it, but show with their stances and votes that they are here for Oregonian students.” Advocates arrived at the Capitol in the morning, received an orientation and welcome from President Michael Schill and Gov. Kate Brown, and met with legislators throughout the day. The UO a capella group Mind the Gap performed at the opening ceremonies of the House of Representatives floor session, and UO academic and service programs hosted booths set up in the Capitol galleria. The booths included the university’s prison education program; Oregon Research Schools Network; Sustainable City Year Program; Oregon Institute of Marine Biology, whose staff brought live dungeness crabs and jellyfish; and the UO’s earthquake early warning system, called ShakeAlert. The UO Alumni Association also hosted a galleria table and encouraged policy staff and visitors in the building to answer UO-related trivia questions. “Our goal at the UO is to reduce student debt, improve graduation rates, provide critical wraparound services and ultimately create a better-equipped workforce for the future of Oregon’s economy,” said Libby Batlan, associate vice president of state and community affairs. “Cutting through the noise in Salem can be tough, but when lawmakers hear directly from students, alumni, faculty and staff about why investment in higher education is important, that’s when real change is made.” The Legislature is less than two months away from the conclusion of the 2019 session and setting the state’s budget for the next two years. Lawmakers will wait until after the Oregon economic forecast May 15 before making any final decisions in order to better understand how much revenue will flow into state coffers from taxpayers and businesses.

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  • Oregon Legislature Update: Week 15

    The Oregon Legislature is in week 15 of the legislative session. With just more than two months to complete their work, lawmakers are making progress on passing education budgets. The Joint Committee on Student Success passed HB 3427 on Monday, April 29 out of committee. This is the revenue package that will raise approximately $2 billion each biennia moving forward for early childhood and K-12 school districts and students. The proposed package is funded by a corporate activities tax. The measure now moves to the floor of the House of Representatives for a vote. Despite our best efforts, lawmakers were unwilling to include funding for students at public universities or community colleges in this package. As a result, we’re working hard to continue to advocate to increase the funding in the Public University Support Fund (PUSF) and for the Oregon Opportunity Grant—the state’s only need-based financial aid program. Legislators will wait until after the revenue forecast on May 15 to make final budget decisions so they can see whether they will have more, less, or about the same amount of taxpayer revenue they anticipated to spend this biennium. Our goal is simple: Increase funding in the PUSF by at least $120 million this session so students take on less debt, graduate on time, and enter the workforce prepared with the skills for which Oregon employers are hiring. University of Oregon trustees, staff, faculty, students, and alumni have been advocating in Salem all session long. Our next big advocacy day point is Wednesday, May 8. That’s UO Day at the Capitol, and we need as many advocates to come to Salem to tell lawmakers to increase funding for higher education and for students. You can sign up for UO Day at the Capitol here: Deadline to sign up is Wednesday, May 1. More on budget: Lawmakers intend to pass a bill that would reduce the overall “kicker” by $108 million. This would make additional General Funds available to craft the 2019-21 state budget. Governor Brown presented a proposed tobacco tax that would raise taxes on cigarettes by $2 per package and introduce the first tax in the nation on vaping and e-cigarettes. The package would raise $346 million in total that, along with a tax on companies whose employees qualify for Medicaid, would be used to pay the state’s share of Medicaid.

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  • Knight Campus launches affiliation program to support faculty

    First published in Around the O on April 16th. Faculty members from different academic disciplines now have the opportunity to become involved with the Knight Campus through the new Faculty Affiliation Program. The Knight Campus already has established a host of programming open to the UO community, and the general UO community will be able to take advantage of a world-class facility once opened in late Spring 2020. The goal of the Faculty Affiliation Program is to create deeper faculty engagement and build on the impact of Knight Campus programs and opportunities for collaboration. The program will provide resources and organized events to support faculty members across campus and facilitate multidisciplinary teams from faculty members with overlapping or complimentary skills and interests.  The Knight Campus Affiliation Program offers two distinct memberships for UO faculty members whose primary appointment is outside the Knight Campus. Knight Campus associates are tenure-related faculty members and faculty members in the research professor classification with primary appointments outside the Knight Campus who are integrally involved with Knight Campus activities and programs. Associate members will have access to many of the research and innovation opportunities afforded to those with tenure in the Knight Campus. Knight Campus affiliates are UO faculty members of all ranks with a primary appointment outside of the Knight Campus who would like to be kept abreast of activities and programs offered by the Knight Campus through direct communication and who wish to be included as affiliated members on the Knight Campus website. Membership proposals will be reviewed quarterly for affiliates and semi-annually for associates. Appointments are for three years and are renewable. Faculty members and scholars across academic disciplines are encouraged to apply. Interested faculty members should apply online by Friday, May 31. Applicants will receive notification by the beginning of July on the status of application review.    https://around.uoregon.edu/content/knight-campus-launches-affiliation-program-support-faculty

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  • Calling all Ducks: Advocates needed for UO lobby day in Salem

    First published in Around the O, UO students, alumni, faculty and staff will visit the state Capitol on May 8 to advocate for higher education funding, and Duck supporters are encouraged to sign up and take part in the event. Advocates will join campus leaders, including UO President Michael H. Schill and student body President Maria Alejandra Gallegos-Chacôn, to meet with lawmakers and make the case for the funding necessary to keep tuition increases as low as possible. Other priorities include investing in new services and programs that reduce debt, improving graduation rates, and expanding career connections. A new video explains the role of advocates at UO Day at the Capitol. “Oregonians believe that having a college degree is important to succeed later on in life, but rising student debt threatens the path to prosperity that higher education has always represented,” said Libby Batlan, associate vice president for state and community affairs. “Increasing state funding for public universities and financial aid are, without question, the biggest factors to keep tuition increases low and ensuring that all students can graduate with the skills they need to get a job.”  As the university faces significant financial challenges and is in the process of cutting $11.6 million from its operating budget, additional state investment of at least $120 million would allow tuition increases to stay below 5 percent for the next two years. Investment of an additional $186 million above current levels would create new and enhanced opportunities for financial aid for underserved student populations, academic and career advising, diversity initiatives and other wraparound services that lead to a positive college experience. The proposed budget from the co-chairs of the Joint Committee on Ways and Means targets the Public University Support Fund at $777.4 million, which is an increase of $40.5 million over the 2017-19 biennium. The fund is split across all seven public universities. At that funding level, the UO would be forced to consider tuition increases in the double digits on top of cuts that will affect students and employees. “The Legislature is considering historic new investments in public education this session as well as new corporate tax increases to pay for it,” Schill said. “My job, and the job of UO advocates, is to ensure that lawmakers know that without an investment in higher education, they are not truly making progress for students and for Oregon’s economy.” In addition to advocate visits with legislators, the lobby day will include orientation and training opportunities, photos with the Duck, viewing House and Senate chamber sessions and performances by UO musical groups. Transportation from Eugene can be requested when signing up. An orientation video provides additional information about the role of participants. “We know from experience that it’s students and faculty who truly make the difference,” said Ivan Chen, external vice president for the Associated Students of the UO. “We need as many people as possible to come to Salem on May 8th to advocate for our future.” All are welcome and encouraged to participate. Registration is required to attend, which can be completed online in addition to viewing a training video. UO Day at the Capitol is coordinated by UO Government and Community Relations in conjunction with the Associated Students of the University of Oregon, UO Alumni Association and the UO Student Alumni Association.   Link: https://around.uoregon.edu/content/calling-all-ducks-advocates-needed-uo-lobby-day-salem/?utm_source=UOnews&fbclid=IwAR27Eq7fIhHArbyq4H39qwvPz4zEubFgOCMrTBoL7Ohyqginu2RJF7ZCNCE   

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  • Oregon Legislature reaches first bill deadline

    The 2019 Oregon Legislature reached its first bill deadline on Tuesday, April 9. All measures had to be voted out of their first committees in order to stay “alive.” For example, a bill introduced in the House of Representatives and referred to the Education Committee must have moved to the floor for a vote of the full chamber, to the Rules Committee, or to the Joint Ways & Means Committee in order to remain active in the legislative process. Lawmakers are tackling big policy and budget challenges, including: Climate change: Still under debate, HB 2020 would establish a new cap-and-trade marketplace in Oregon, set a cap on overall greenhouse gas emissions in the state, and reduce it over time. It would also charge large polluters — including utilities, fuel importers and industrial facilities — for each ton of greenhouse gas they emit, though some entities would receive breaks. Amendments abound on this measure. Rent control: SB 608 limits rent increases and bars no-cause evictions after a tenant's first year in a building. The bill was signed by Governor Brown earlier this session. Workplace harassment: SB 726 would create new protections for employees who experience harassment or assault in the work place. The Title IX protections: In the wake of the U.S. Department of Education releasing its notice of proposed rulemaking late last year making changes to Title IX regulations, Oregon lawmakers introduced HB 3415. The bill would codify that universities must adopt written policies concerning sexual harassment, sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking that occur both on and off campus, ensure relevant training is provided, and more. Credit transfer: SB 730 continues the state’s work on collegiate credit transfer and the creation of unified statewide transfer agreements (USTAs) that are reflected in current law as a result of the passage of HB 2998 in 2017. Dual credit: SB 800 requires the Higher Education Coordinating Commission (HECC) to develop standards for approving partnerships to provide dual credit programs. The University of Oregon’s key legislative priorities all continue to move through the process successfully. SB 949 provides $350,000 of new funding to support the UO’s prison education program. The program offers a horizon-broadening experience for “outside” students and invaluable skill-development and credit-bearing course opportunities for “inside” students, helping to reduce recidivism rates overall. SB 949 moved out of the Senate Education Committee unanimously and is now in the Joint Committee on Ways & Means. Read the Around the O story on SB 949’s public hearing. SB 255 would provide $500,000 in one-time state funding for the Oregon Institute of Marine Biology to purchase a new boat for research and teaching. This measure is led by legislators who represent Oregon’s coastal region. SB 255 moved out of the Senate Education Committee unanimously and is now in the Joint Committee on Ways & Means. Read the Around the O story on SB 255’s public hearing. SB 739 would provide $2.5 million to expand the UO’s College of Education’s Oregon Research Schools Network (ORSN) to more school districts throughout the state. The program embeds UO faculty into high schools for five years to work with teachers and students to improve high school graduation rates and student success with the newest pedagogy and resources. SB 739 moved out of the Senate Education Committee unanimously and is now in the Joint Committee on Ways & Means. Read the Around the O story on SB 739’s public hearing. HB 2594 would create a $300,000 state matching fund for the UO’s Sustainable City Year Program (SCYP), which is part of the School of Planning, Public Policy and Management. The matching fund would help smaller, more rural cities partner with SCYP to help them solve public policy challenges and provide more students with experiential learning opportunities. HB 2594 moved out of the House Education Committee unanimously and is now in the Joint Committee on Ways & Means. Future legislative deadlines: May 15: Last state revenue forecast before final budget decisionsMay 24: Second chamber work session deadline (AKA lots more bills die)June 30: Constitutional Sine Die

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  • University presents budget options to Ways & Means

    The University of Oregon, along with the six other public universities, made their case on March 28 to the Legislature’s key budget-writers about why investment in operating funding for college students is critical to a bright future for Oregon. The universities’ presentation focused on the student experience; gaining admission to, paying for, and graduating from college in 2019. We worked to highlight for lawmakers the stark differences between the financial realities of higher education today versus 20 or 30 years ago when many of them were in school. In 1976, for example, annual tuition and fees at a four-year, public university was just more than $1,200 a year. Today, that’s approximately what a student would pay each month for a one bedroom apartment in an urban area like Portland. Universities highlighted the dramatic increase in institutional tuition remissions in the wake of lagging state investment. We talked about programs like Pathway Oregon that help Pell-eligible students pay for school, but made sure to note that that didn’t account for the full cost of earning a college degree that includes room and board, transportation, books, and food. Student, staff, and trustee representatives from all seven campuses walked the Education Subcommittee through how various investment levels in the Public University Support Fund would impact student debt levels, support services, research, and graduation rates on every campus. Specifically, we’re talking about four scenarios: +$40.5 million in the PUSF (total state investment of $777.4 million in 2019-21) The funding level that the State of Oregon has targeted as what public universities need to continue “current services.” Unfortunately, it does not include key cost drivers faced by institutions, including bargained compensation packages and other employee benefits that impact the universities’ ability to keep tuition low and not make further cuts to workforce or services.  +$120 million in the PUSF (total state investment of $856.9 million in 2019-21) The funding level public universities have calculated would keep tuition increases at or below five percent for the next two years.  +$186 million in the PUSF (total state investment of $922.9 million in 2019-21) The funding level recommended by the Higher Education Coordination Commission necessary to advance the state’s educational attainment goals.  +$263 million  the PUSF (total state investment of $1 billion in 2019-21) The optimal funding level for students and public universities to keep tuition increases below three percent for the next two years and make significant new investments in advising, financial aid, wraparound wellbeing services, and academic quality.

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  • Joint Committee on Student Success releases first draft of revenue and expenditure plan

    On April 4, the Joint Committee on Student Success (JCSS) released the first conceptual amendments to House Bill 2019. The JCSS toured the state over the last year examining needs and solutions to fix Oregon’s lagging K-12 graduation rate and improve student outcomes. HB 2019 will create the Fund for Student Success. Within that fund, the bill allocates a yet-to-be-determined increased amount to the State School Fund. Remaining moneys will be allocated to: Early Learning Account – 20% School Improvement Account – 50% Statewide Initiatives Account – 30%. Click here for details on the conceptual amendments. The Joint Committee also released potential options for raising revenue to pay for new investments in Oregon’s public education system. Specifically, the joint committee released three options for a new corporate tax called a Commercial Activities Tax. Click here for details.

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