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Media Advisory: Oregon Community College Students Take Budget Message to Salem
Photos and Story by James Hill
PORTLAND, Ore. – Oregon’s community college students will take their message to spare budget cuts to community colleges on Friday, Feb. 8. Students will travel from across the state to meet with legislators to try to convince them to keep community colleges strong, particularly during harsh economic times. Legislators convene in a special session on Friday to address the $830 million shortfall in the state budget. Proposals for cuts to community colleges range from $36 million to $13.5 million over the biennium. The state general fund provides approximately 60 percent of community college funding. "Community colleges have been operating in catch-up mode for three years,"said Bryan Ruzicka, a student leader at Portland Community College’s Cascade Campus. "The legislature passed a budget last year that gave us some but not all the help we needed. Now we are looking at sliding back even further. At PCC alone, we are serving 100,000 students this year. This term, our enrollment growth is up a whopping 12 percent, but the state has not provided community colleges with the resources to keep up."Students will meet under the theme, "Jump Start the Economy with Oregon’s Community Colleges."Students want legislators to know that Oregon’s Community Colleges are part of the solution, providing low-cost options for displaced workers and the unemployed and that the return on the investment will be well above the original investment.Ruzicka added that the students’ commitment to travel to Salem to make themselves heard is worth noting because most community college students must work and attend to families while going to school. Students will meet in Room number 343 in the Capitol at 8 a.m. Friday morning. From there, they will then fan out to meet with legislators and aides to share their message to keep community colleges strong, now particularly when low-cost, available training and education are crucial to the state’s economic turnaround. The PCC student contacts are: Bryan Ruzicka, 503-978-5438 – Cascade Campus; Michael Anderson, 503-614-7442 – Rock Creek Campus; Violet Nazari, 503-977-4923 – Sylvania Campus.