SALEM, OR -- OSU-Cascades asked the Oregon Legislature for $69.5 million to complete the planned expansion at the Bend campus. But, during the recent Legislative session, lawmakers only agreed to send $9 million to the school, out of a $1.2 billion bond allocation for capitol improvement projects.
Senator Richard Devlin (D-Tualatin) is Chair of the Ways and Means Committee. He says, despite the university's multiple visits to Salem to fight for the money, there wasn't much OSU could do to influence the outcome. "It had very little to do with OSU-Cascades. It had to do with the level of bonding for universities. From that $1.2 billion, we allocated approximately $266 million to universities; and by doing that, that precluded some of the projects from actually being funded." He tells KBND News, "People will look at the $1.2 billion in total and say, 'well, you should be able to spend more.' The 1.2 is to meet all the capitol needs the state has; it's for everything, not just for universities."
Devlin says the final allocation was based on feedback from several places. "Normally, we just get a recommendation from the Governor, which actually follows up the recommendation from the Higher Education Coordinating Commission (HECC). This time, we have the recommendation from the Higher Education Coordinating Commission, the Governor's recommended budget, then a separate, final recommendation from the Presidents' Council which is made up of the seven presidents of the public universities in the state." The Governor and HECC both recommended a disbursement for OSU-Cascades of $20 million.
But, he says the fight isn't over. Devlin is encouraging OSU-Cascades to try again in the next budget cycle. "OSU and OSU-Cascades can come back in '19. And, what I would recommend is that they come back for the remainder of the campus infrastructure, and come back for $10 million to complete the Student Success Center. I think you could be quite successful." He says just over $90 million of the capitol bond fund has yet to be disbursed.