SALEM, OR -- State lawmakers gave the okay, this week, to advance a bill for expansion of OSU-Cascades. The bill would secure nearly $70 million in state funds to help clean up a former pumice mine where the university hopes to construct a second academic building.
The House Committee on Higher Education voted to send the bill to Ways and Means. Higher Ed. Committee Chair Jeff Reardon (D-Happy Valley) supported the bill and says he was convinced after listening to supporting testimony. "They really talked about what this means to the economic growth in eastern Oregon and also for access to people over there. I'm still struck by the 41-year-old mom who is working, who had a chance to finish her college degree because of that campus. I'll also remind members, this isn't a new idea; this is something that has been in the works since about 2001."
Central Oregon Representative Gene Whisnant (R-Sunriver) also serves on the committee and told the group the funding is essential. "I've been here since 2003; OSU Cascades started in 2001, and we've had a lot of uphill fights but we're getting close. With the passage of this bill we're going to build this university out in Central Oregon and for Eastern Oregon people. I appreciate the Chair's leadership on this and all the committee members' support of this bill. And, I'll be babysitting it through the Ways and Means Education and full committee."
The bill would allow Oregon State University to issue $70 million in bonds to expand the Bend campus. It's possible lawmakers won't approve the full amount, but the closer they get to $70 million, the more the university can do.