Friday morning Gov. John Kitzhaber announced his recommended community college support fund budget of $428 million for the 2013-15 biennium. This is an increase over the community colleges’ 2011-13 funding level of $395 million, but below the 2007-09 biennium budget of $500 million.
Portland Community College’s state funding has decreased 20 percent the past five years as enrollment has grown by 44 percent. As a result, there are 8,000 full-time equivalent students for whom the college receives no state funding. If the funding level is approved for $428 million in 2013-15, PCC will still have a deficit of $20 million for the biennium, or about $10 million each year. This could mean a $5-$6 per credit tuition increase, program eliminations and reduced access, and reductions in staffing and services.
The Oregon Community College Association and PCC will advocate for a community college support fund level of $510 million to avoid the additional tuition increases and increase student access and success while advancing the state’s 40-40-20 goals.
“The Governor’s recommended state budget is a positive step forward and we are appreciative of his efforts to better fund community colleges,” said PCC President Preston Pulliams. “The past five years, the college and our students have stretched and stretched, with fewer and fewer state resources to address the extraordinary demand for a PCC education and student support. In order to increase student access and success, and to maintain services, we must have additional resources from the state.
“PCC is on the front lines of providing Oregonians with the education and training needed to move us out of the recession,” he added. “As the largest post-secondary institution in the state of Oregon, PCC’s efforts are critical to fulfilling the state’s vision.”
The state’s 40-40-20 goal envisions 40 percent of the state’s adults with four-year college degrees, 40 percent with two-year degrees, and the remaining 20 percent with high school diplomas by 2025. To do its part, Pulliams added, PCC must increase the number of its students that earn associate’s degrees and also the number that transfer from PCC to universities. That requires keeping tuition rates affordable and maintaining investments and initiatives that improve student outcomes and ensure a quality education, he said.