State Relations update: co-chairs release budget; bill filing deadline passes; House and Senate consider governance proposals

Co-chairs release budget

On March 4 the co-chairs of the Oregon Legislature’s Joint Ways and Means Committee, State Senator Richard Devlin (D-Portland) and State Representative Peter Buckley (D-Ashland), released their budget proposal for the 2013-15 biennium. During a press conference, the co-chairs emphasized that additional savings in tax expenditures, budget reductions, and revenue management will be needed to achieve their budget. They described their budget as a framework for recovery and a turning point that “brings back opportunities for students.”

Speaking at the press conference, Devlin said that funding K-12 at $6.75 billion, an increase over the Governor’s Recommended Budget (GRB) of $6.15 billion, is their highest priority. The co-chairs indicated that higher education will be funded at the same level as the Governor’s Recommended Budget (GRB). The co-chairs budget departed from the GRB in adding back funding for statewide service programs and the sports lottery. The sports lottery allocation for higher education had been completely cut in the GRB.

The co-chairs emphasized that there will be close scrutiny of any tax expenditures (e.g., tax credits, deductions, etc.). Their budget preserves the Cultural Trust at its current levels. The Republican response is available on the Legislature’s website.

Key bill deadline passes

With the passing February 19 bill filing deadline, the Legislature has filed (or received) most of the bills it will consider this session. Each member has five priority bills that can be introduced, but the list of bills under consideration will narrow as the session progresses and key deadlines pass.

House and Senate committees discuss governance

Both the Senate Education and Workforce Development Committee and the House Higher Education and Workforce Development Committee continue to work on higher education governance. House committee chair, State Representative Michael Dembrow (D-Portland) has stated that his committee will reserve Fridays to discuss governance issues. His committees received testimony from OHSU President Joe Robertson and discussed a bill that would provide institutional boards for certain OUS institutions. The senate committee, chaired by Mark Hass (D-Beaverton) also held hearing on February 28 and March 5.