OSU statewide services seek budget boost
By MITCH LIES
For the Capital Press
Oregon State University’s newly formed Board of Trustees is asking for a general fund budget increase of $22 million for the university’s statewide public services.
The proposal, which is now before the Higher Education Coordinating Commission, includes a $5.8 million increase for inflation, known as a continuing service level adjustment, and $16 million for new and expanding initiatives.
Overall, the proposal would increase general fund support of the statewides from $101 million in the current biennium to $123 million for 2015-17 biennium. The OSU statewide public services include the Experiment Station, Extension Service and Forest Research Laboratory.
If approved, it would be the first time in several biennia that the statewides received anything more than a continuing service level adjustment, Scott Reed, director of the Extension Service, said.
“It has been quite a period of time of not only tightening the budget belt, but seeking additional resources and new kinds of partnerships,” Reed said.
“Last biennium, we started behind the curve and didn’t even have a continuing service level recommended budget, which we ultimately generated,” Reed said.
The proposal includes an increase of $10.2 million for the Agricultural Experiment Station, including $7 million above the continuing service level; an increase of $7.3 million for the Extension Service, including $5 million above the continuing service level adjustment; and an increase of $4.35 million for the Forest Research Laboratory, including $4 million for new and expanded programs.
Overall, the general fund support for the Experiment Station would increase from $55.1 million this biennium to $65.3 million. General fund support for the Extension Service would increase from just under $40 million to $47.2 million. And general fund support for the Forest Research Laboratory would increase from just over $6 million this biennium to $10.4 million in 2015-17.
Reed said he, College of Forestry Dean Thomas Maness and Experiment Station Director Dan Arp sought increases that were manageable for the state, yet adequate for the services to provide meaningful contributions.
“At some point, one asks the question, what is reasonable given the nature of the state’s economic performance, and where can we make a meaningful contribution and in what areas?” Reed said.
“Then we listened real closely to our advisors, which in my case is the Extension Citizen Advisory Network, and our partner agencies and organizations. All of that is distilled into what seems to be a ballpark number, and then the university administration has to confer,” Reed said.
Under new budget protocols put in place in the 2013 legislative session, the Higher Education Coordinating Commission is responsible for analyzing budget requests from Oregon State University, the University of Oregon and Portland State University, in addition to Oregon’s four regional universities and 17 community colleges.
The commission then forwards recommendations to the Oregon Education Investment Board, which in turn issues a recommendation to the governor for all grade levels and the university system.
The new protocols were put in place last legislative session. OSU’s 15-member Board of Trustees was appointed by Gov. John Kitzhaber last year, and received Senate approval last November.
In literature developed in support of the statewides’ request, OSU leaders identified five program areas on which they plan to focus:
• Sustainable management of working landscapes: Helping sustain the productivity and longevity of working forests, farms and ranches.
• Ensuring water quality and quantity: Includes help in addressing watershed management to increase water availability and identify practical strategies for addressing water-quality concerns.
• Promoting public health, food safety and security: Includes everything from breeding new crops and developing food-safety practices to conducting nutrition programs.
• Technologies supporting business development and value-added manufacturing: Includes supporting private-sector development and investment in new technologies and manufacturing techniques that drive value-added agricultural and forestry products.
• Educating the workforce of tomorrow: Includes building excellence in education through programs that foster youth development.
The literature states that the statewides last year generated almost $80 million in research grants from outside sources, providing $180 million in economic benefits for Oregon and creating nearly 2,000 family-wage jobs.
“For every state dollar invested in the OSU Statewides, these programs return another $10 to Oregon’s economy,” the literature states.