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Revenue forecast: Fate unclear for community colleges
Photos and Story by Dana Haynes
SALEM, Ore. (May 12, 2011) – The May revenue forecast for Oregon was released today, revealing a slight decrease for the remaining few weeks of the 2009-11 biennium and a slight increase in revenue for 2011-13.
The state will have $40 million less than previously assumed for the two-year cycle ending June 30. But the forecast also calls for an uptick of $129 million in the next two-year budget.
The forecast sheds no new light on the Community College Support Fund. Gov. John Kitzhaber pegged it at $410 million for 2011-13 and the co-chairs of Ways & Means left the number unclear, setting it “at or above” $410 million.
Oregon community colleges have been lobbying for a minimum of $425 million.
That is down approximately 18 percent from the $500 million allotted for 2009-11. The Support Fund serves Oregon’s 17 independent community colleges as well as a department within the governor’s office that assists community colleges and workforce development.
“Many lawmakers in Salem understand that community colleges are part of the economic solution, not the problem,” said Preston Pulliams, president of Portland Community College. “The economy is on the rise. Community colleges can and do provide the leverage to speed up the recovery.”
Several lawmakers from the metropolitan area have said that $410 million is unacceptable, but were waiting for the revenue forecast before pushing forward a budget for the support fund.
“What a difference a year can make,” Senate President Peter Courtney said this morning at the Capitol. “Last May, we were hit with a $526 million boulder. The bottom dropped out of our revenue and we spent the rest of 2010 weathering the storm. Today’s forecast gives us a $129 million boost. It doesn’t solve all of our problems, but it will allow us to fill some of the holes in our Human Services and Public Safety budgets.”
The new forecast calls for a general fund of $13.9 billion with an additional $1.1 billion from the Oregon Lottery, for a total of $14.8 billion.
“Today’s forecast will help provide some additional relief in the 2011-13 budget and will help backfill some reductions to key priorities,” said Rep. Bruce Hanna, R-Roseburg and Co-Speaker of the House. “But Oregonians should remember that this is just a forecast. We must be prudent in budgeting for the next biennium so that we are not constantly at the whim of our cyclical economy.
The current biennium ends in seven weeks.
To learn more about PCC’s legislative activities, or what issues could affect the college, visit http://www.pcc.edu/about/legislature/