November 20, 2001

Contact: Bob Bruce, 503-725-5714
Diane Vines, 502-725-5700

Board Final Reduction Plan Protects Instruction

PORTLAND - The Oregon State Board of Higher Education today decided to send to the governor a proposed budget reduction scenario that maintains its commitment to instruction while paring proposed cuts for statewide services and campus research.

In the recommendation Chancellor Joe Cox will send to Governor John Kitzhaber on Wednesday, the Board focused on cuts in administrative and non-instructional areas. To lessen reductions in statewide services and research, it proposed larger cuts in the Oregon University System's base budget allocation model at lower increment levels and reducing targeted investments in the top tier engineering initiative and the new branch Cascades Campus in Central Oregon at the top levels.

All state agencies have been asked by the Governor to propose reduction plans in 2 percent increments up to 10 percent, to help the state cope with an anticipated budget shortfall.

The State Board's plan, approved late Tuesday afternoon in an electronic polling to give direction to the Chancellor, shows at the 2 percent level, the state's universities would need to cut about $16.7 million from its 2001-2003 biennial budget. At 10 percent, the cut would exceed $80.9 million.

In an initial draft of the plan last week large cuts at lower levels were for statewide services (extension, the agricultural experiment station and the forestry research laboratory). But Board members softened that impact in the final plan, using resources earmarked for improving engineering investments on all seven OUS campuses as offsets. At the higher levels of 6, 8 and 10 percent, they used unexpended funds from the branch campus and the top tier engineering initiatives to meet targeted reduction goals

The idea of deferring part of the new investments was first broached Monday in a teleconference call among Board members. Several members questioned the potential for saving unexpended money. The Board asked OUS officials to provide additional information on how much could be available for the branch campus budget to defer larger cuts in other areas. Earlier Tuesday OUS officials told Board members only $1.8 million of the $7.2 million appropriated for the Cascades Campus remains unexpended or uncommitted.

Prior to the Board's decision today, Tom Imeson of Portland proposed a compromise to use the unexpended funds as part of the final plan to be sent to the Governor.

He proposed that the Board continue commitment to the Cascades Campus but reduce its budget by $1.8 million this biennium. He further proposed that the $1.8 million be held by the Chancellor to be used toward: 1. meeting any overall budget reductions; 2. possibly reducing the impact on other initiatives, including engineering, or 3. meeting, with board approval, additional costs on the Cascades campus.

A majority of the Board members supported the proposed compromise. Only Jim Lussier of Bend urged support for an alternative plan that would have spared the higher level reductions for the branch campus and top tier initiatives.

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