Legislature releases budget framework; PUSF funding $13 million less than requested by public universities

On March 24, the co-chairs of the Oregon Legislature’s Joint Committee on Ways and Means released their 2021-23 Budget Framework. This is the first official indication of how lawmakers intend to allocate state resources for the 2021-23 biennium and essentially “replaces” the Governor’s recommended budget. It establishes expectations of what state funding for the UO might look like for the next two years.

The framework includes investments from general fund and lottery funds resources as well as the federal government through the American Rescue Plan, all of which will help the state protect current programs and services from reductions.

The Co-Chairs have announced they intend to reserve 20% of the American Rescue Plan funding for the 2023-25 biennium in order to stabilize investments in critical new programs and services created by the federal stimulus package. This reserve totals $520 million. The rest of the American Rescue Plan funds are anticipated to be used in 2021-23 for current services and programs, as well as making critical new investments, some of which will be one-time in nature and some of which will be ongoing.

How did UO fare? The Co-Chairs framework increases funding in the Public University Support Fund (PUSF) by $49.1 million. The framework states, “It is our intent that some programs and services, including Oregon Opportunity Grants, support funds for public universities and community colleges and early learning programs will be continued at the current service level.”

What’s Next? The UO will continue to work the state’s six other public universities to advocate for the coalition’s full funding request of $90 million in the PUSF. The UO will also pursue opportunities to seek additional American Rescue Plan dollars to assist students impacted by the pandemic and help the institution navigate the significant financial uncertainty experiences over the last year.

The UO will also continue to work to secure capital construction investments to fund the renovation of University and Villard halls.

The next quarterly revenue forecast will come out on May 19, after which point lawmakers will work to make final budget decisions before they are constitutionally required to complete their work by June 27.