Officials says without the money, five experiment stations will likely close
By MITCH LIES
SALEM -- Oregon State University President Ed Ray in a hearing March 29 urged lawmakers to add-back $12 million to Gov. John Kitzhaber's proposed budget for the university's statewide public services.
"If we can't get $12 million back in their budget, we are going to be cutting into muscle and bone," Ray said.
OSU officials are asking lawmakers to restore $12 million of the $20 million cut to the statewides proposed by Kitzhaber.
The proposed cut would drop the statewides general fund revenue from $106 million in the current biennium to $86 million for the 2011-13 biennium.
The statewide public services include the OSU Extension Service, the Experiment Station and the Forest Research Laboratory.
The add-back would align the statewides' cuts with the rest of the Oregon University System, which is down 7.8 percent in the governor's proposed budget.
In a report last month at the Southern Oregon Research and Extension Center, OSU Agricultural College Dean Sonny Ramaswamy said five experiment stations are in danger of closing under the governor's current budget plan.
The cuts also put at risk federal and county funds the college leverages with the state dollars.
Instead of localized service, under the governor's budget, constituents "may have to work with an (extension) agent two counties away," Ray said.
Ray said the statewides last year doubled state investments by generating more than $82 million in external research grants. The grants provided $190 million in economic benefits for Oregon and created over 2,000 family-wage jobs, he said.
In an interview after the hearing, Oregon University System Chancellor George Pernsteiner agreed with Ray that the statewides provide immense value to the state, but he stopped short of saying he supports the add-back.
"If we restore $12 million to the statewides, from whence does it come?" Pernsteiner said. "Clearly these are needed programs. They are the underpinning of a lot of the activities in our rural counties.
"But we have to make tough trade-offs as a state, and we believe the governor's budget has the right balance," Pernsteiner said.
The Joint Ways and Means Education Subcommittee has tentatively scheduled hearings on the OSU budget through April 5.