SOURCE: The Oregon Idea

The Oregon Idea

June 30, 2011 18:05 ET

The Oregon Idea Commends Legislature for Prioritizing Post-Secondary Education

Legislature Passes Bills to Restructure Oregon University System and Invest in Community Colleges, OHSU and OUS

PORTLAND, OR--(Marketwire - Jun 30, 2011) - Before adjourning this week, the Oregon Legislature passed several bills providing funding for post-secondary education and restructuring the Oregon University System, a move applauded by The Oregon Idea -- and one that the group contends is vital to Oregon's economic future.

The Oregon Idea, a coalition of small business owners, CEOs, community leaders, and alumni of Oregon's post-secondary institutions, united around a four-part legislative agenda for 2011 that included restructuring Oregon University System (OUS) and protecting funding for community colleges, OHSU and OUS. The group commends the legislature for prioritizing post-secondary education in Oregon:

  • Funding for Oregon's 17 community colleges. The Oregon Idea supported the community colleges' request for $425 million. The colleges received a base budget of $410 million plus an additional allocation of $15 million.

  • Funding for OHSU. The state restored $4.4 million in funding for the school of nursing and child development and rehabilitation centers -- coming close to the $5 million Oregon's only health and research university requested.

  • Funding for OUS. The legislature approved the full $12 million requested by OUS to preserve funding for statewide services including the Agricultural Experiment Station, Extension Service, and the Forest Research Laboratory.

  • Reform OUS to ensure access for Oregonians. The legislature passed Senate Bill 242, landmark legislation that will restructure Oregon University System (OUS) and shift it from a state agency to a public university system. This legislation will give universities greater control over their own costs and ensure that tuition dollars are reinvested back into the system and do not go to fund unrelated state services.

Jim Piro, CEO of PGE, commented, "The legislature's bold decision to pass legislation that will restructure Oregon's university system and prioritize funding for post-secondary education is a step forward that will ensure PGE can continue to recruit from a qualified, trained workforce."

"For the first time businesses, community colleges, OHSU, and all seven of Oregon's public universities were united on a legislative effort," noted Kathy Miller, Director of Operations for the Technology Development Organization, a division of the Imaging Printing Group for Hewlett-Packard. "Clearly they provided the support needed to prioritize funding and restructure our university system."

"In 2011 OHSU, Oregon's 17 community colleges, and OUS were funded at or above the levels proposed by Governor Kitzhaber. This is great news for Oregon's economic future," added Bill Thorndike, CEO of Medford Fabrication.

Jim Francesconi, Board Chair of The Oregon Idea and member of the State Board of Higher Education applauds the legislature for prioritizing post-secondary education: "Faced with the worst budget shortfall in Oregon's history the legislature chose to prioritize investments in post-secondary education and ensure that our universities have the autonomy they need going forward. Although there is much more to do, Oregon's economic future is brighter because of what the legislature has accomplished."

Francesconi, Thorndike, Miller, and Piro are all founding board members with The Oregon Idea.

Over 3,000 Oregonians pledged their support for The Oregon Idea's mission by signing up to receive action alerts, sending letters to legislators, and joining the discussion on Facebook.

With the legislature's decision to prioritize funding for post-secondary education this session when jobs and the economy are the top priority, it's clear that The Oregon Idea's message that investing today for tomorrow's economic prosperity is taking hold.

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THE OREGON IDEA is a coalition of small business owners, CEOs, community leaders, and alumni of Oregon's Community Colleges and Universities who share a common vision for Oregon's post-secondary education system. The Oregon Idea is this: Investing in post-secondary education today will lead to economic prosperity tomorrow.

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