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Blog: We got the Bad Budget Blues
Photos and Story by Dana Haynes
OK, the budget news is bad. But it could get better.
The co-chairs of the Ways and Means Committee of the Oregon Legislature released their 2009-11 budget yesterday. The funding for Oregon’s 17 independent community colleges went from $500 million in 2007-09 to $423 million.
In the budget document, Ways and Means says it cut community colleges by 15 percent. The same for the four-year Oregon University System schools. In fact, our cut comes to about 18.5 percent.
Bad, yes. But that’s not the end of the story.
The Ways and Means Committee made a math error. They think they cut us from $500 million to $440 million. That’s because they inadvertently lumped in the Office of Community Colleges and Workforce Development with our budget.
I’m optimistic we can fix this and get back to the 15 percent cut – and yes, we’re not crazy, the economy is a disaster and we will face cuts. Nobody here is so delusional as to think otherwise.
First, the House side of the Legislature admitted that an error was made and they’re working to fix it. Second, one of the co-chairs of Ways and Means is our own Sen. Margaret Carter, who formerly worked at the Cascade Campus. Nobody in the Legislature “gets” community colleges better than Sen. Carter. She’s a tireless advocate for us. And if anyone can help fix this error, she can.
We have window of a couple of weeks to put this right. Errors in Salem sometimes develop momentum and become increasingly difficult to fix. We urge everyone who reads this to call their House and Senate members and tell them to correct the error in the budget.
With unemployment at a staggering 12 percent and our enrollment skyrocketing to 18 percent, we are the first, best option for unemployed and underemployed Oregonians to get out of this recession. An 18.5 percent cut would make that very hard to do.
To learn more about PCC and the Legislature, click here.