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Hundreds attend state budget hearing at PCC

Story by Dana Haynes. Photos by James Hill.

The budget-writing Ways & Means Committee of the Oregon Legislature kicked off a series of public hearings Tuesday night at Portland Community College’s Sylvania Campus.

The two-and-a-half-hour hearing drew an estimated 250 people to the Performing Arts Center at Sylvania, and close to 100 of them testified before the lawmakers.

There was a line across the PAC courtyard of people wanting to testify in front of the State Legislature's budget committee.

Chairing the meeting was Sen. Richard Devlin of Tigard. Other members of the committee include co-chairmen Rep. Peter Buckley and Rep. Dennis Richardson, along with Reps. Terry Beyer, Jean Cowan, Michael Dembrow, Katie Eyre Brewer, Tim Freeman, Wally Hicks, Tina Kotek, Mike McLane and Mary Nolan, and Sens.  Alan Bates, Betsy Johnson and Doug Whitsett.

The entire $14.5 billion state budget was the topic of conversation, and the testimony ranged from the Department of Human Services to corrections, and from K-12 education to post-secondary schools.

Among those who spoke were Preston Pulliams, president of PCC, and PCC Board members Denise Frisbee and Jim Harper. Both asked lawmakers for a minimum of $425 million in the Community College Support Fund, which finances all 17 independent community colleges across the state.

Gov. John Kitzhaber has suggested $410 million for the support fund. That is a reduction of approximately 18 percent from the $500 million of two years ago.

The road-show version of the Ways & Means hearings leaves the Portland area now. However, lawmakers are seeking written comments, which can be sent via e-mail to:

“This is your opportunity to speak directly to the legislators who will be writing and approving Oregon’s budget for 2011-13,” said State Rep. Michael Dembrow, who taught writing at PCC’s Cascade Campus and who serves a region of North Portland. He sits on the full Ways & Means Committee and attended Tuesday’s event.

The rest of the budget-writing committee’s  meetings include:

• The Medford Armory, 1701 S. Pacific Highway, Medford, 5 to 7 p.m. Friday, April 22.

• The Cascades Campus of Oregon State University, 2600 N.W. College Way, Bend, 4 to 6 p.m. Friday, April 29. That hearing will be simulcast via video link-up to Blue Mountain Community College, Room E-114, 2411 N.W. Carden Ave., Pendleton, and to Eastern Oregon University, Inlow Room 013, 1 University Blvd., La Grande.

• Oregon State University’s Hatfield Marine Science Center, Hennings Auditorium, 2030 S.E. Marine Science Drive, Newport. That hearing will be simulcast to Southwestern Oregon Community College, Eden Hall, 1988 Newmark Ave., Coos Bay.



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