Lawmakers ease university cuts
Ag school dean says proposed cuts can be met with attrition
By MITCH LIES
SALEM -- The Oregon Legislature appears to be restoring funds to Oregon State University's statewide public services as the 2011 session winds to a close.
In two bills moving in the waning days of the session, lawmakers are restoring about $12 million in funding for the statewide services that previously were proposed for cuts.
The services include the OSU Extension Service, Agricultural Experiment Station and Forest Research Laboratory.
The proposal leaves the statewides about $8 million below the legislatively approved 2009-11 funding levels, aligning their cuts with the rest of the Oregon University System at about 8 percent.
"It's one huge relief," said Sonny Ramaswamy, dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences at OSU. "Twenty percent reduction for us would mean serious challenges on top of everything we've gone through the last three or four years. Our statewide footprint would be decimated.
"At 8 percent, we'll obviously have to eliminate some more positions," Ramaswamy said, "but we can do that through attrition."
House Bill 5055, which the House and Senate approved June 21, added $2.9 million in general fund appropriations for the statewides. That comes on top of about $91 million in funding in Senate Bill 5532, which includes the university system budget.
The university system budget includes $50.2 million for the Experiment Station, $36.3 million for Extension and $5.5 million for the Forest Research Laboratory.
SB5532 passed the House, 43-31, on June 22. It now goes to Gov. John Kitzhaber's desk for his signature.
House Bill 5055, which includes a $25 million boost in general fund appropriations for K-12 schools, boosts the funding for statewides by $1.58 million for the Experiment Station, $1.14 million for Extension and $175,000 for the Forest Research Laboratory.