Gov. John Kitzhaber released his recommended budget on Nov. 30, outlining his priorities in the upcoming session. The budget document proposed sweeping reforms to the structure of higher education in Oregon in addition to making investment in key strategic areas for higher education in the state.
The governor’s budget proposes the creation of a Department of Post-Secondary Education to centralize coordination of the state’s role in establishing policy for, and contributing to the funding of, the 17 community colleges, seven public, four-year universities, and the Oregon Health and Science University. The new agency would envelope the current functions of the Higher Education Coordinating Commission, Department of Community Colleges and Workforce Development, Oregon Student Access Commission, the Oregon University System, Teachers Standards and Practice Commission, and Oregon Military Department Community Support.
The budget funds the Oregon University System at $708.6 million.
The budget also includes $67 million in the jobs and economy section for projects such as the South Willamette Valley Technology Business Accelerator – a joint project of the University of Oregon and Oregon State University to provide start-up space and services to university-based start-up companies.
The OregonINC budget includes funding to promote research and innovative technology transfer to advance Oregon’s economy: Oregon Nanosciene and Microtechnologies Institute is funded at $6.1 million up from $5 million; Oregon Built Environment and Sustainable Technologies Center is funded at $8 million, up from $3.71; Oregon Translational Research and Development Institute is funded at $1.7 million, down from $2.7.
The budget increases funding for the Oregon Opportunity Grant by 20 percent to $119.3 million – up from $99.4 million for 2011-2013. Sports Lottery, which supports intercollegiate sports (88 percent) and scholarships (12 percent), was zero funded. It was funded at $8.6 million in 2011-2013 from lottery funding. Sports Lottery distributions are established by statute so this change in funding will require legislative action.
Budgets for university capital construction are provided in a new way for FY2013-15. The budget includes $244 million in general revenue bond funding for community college and OUS capital projects. The governor, in consultation with the Oregon Education Investment Board, is evaluating G Bond-backed capital projects proposed by the colleges and universities based on their contributions to the state’s 40-40-20 goals. Campuses were asked to reprioritize projects based on 40-40-20 criteria. Based on this reprioritization, the Finance and Administration Committee of the Oregon State Board of Higher Education updated its priority list and submitted it to the governor.
The governor’s budget also includes:
- $40 million in XI-F, student fee-backed bonds for the expansion of the Student Recreation Center
- 84.4 million in XI-F, revenue-backed bonds for the expansion of university housing
- Based on a student referendum, the State Board of Higher Education also requested the Governor include $10 million in XI-F, student fee-backed bonds, and $74.3 in XI-F(1), revenue backed bonds for the renovation and expansion of the Erb Memorial Union.