Posted: Thursday, April 07, 2011 9:00 AM
Opponents claim cuts would undermine research programs
By MITCH LIES
SALEM -- Farmers, foresters and environmentalists on March 31 urged a legislative committee to add-back $12 million to Oregon State University's statewide public services budget, saying the services are vital to the state's economy.
Under Gov. John Kitzhaber's proposed budget, the statewides are in line for an 18.8 percent reduction. The remainder of the Oregon University System budget, by contrast, is in line for a 7.8 percent reduction.
Adding $12 million to the statewides budget would align the two cuts.
In the Ways and Means budget released March 29, the co-chairs proposed restoring part of the money.
The statewide public services include the OSU Extension Service, the Experiment Station and Forest Research Laboratory.
Blueberry farmer Eric Pond said approving the 18.8 percent cuts in the governor's proposed budget "would have a devastating impact on my livelihood and that of other growers."
Pond said state-funded research into the spotted wing drosophila was vital to his blueberry production last year.
"Without this research, we would have had devastating levels of crop loss," he said.
Allison Hensey of the Oregon Environmental Council, said reducing state funding for the statewides could result in a significant loss of outside revenue leveraged by faculty.
Gloria O'Brien, a greenhouse technician at OSU, said the cuts also "could discourage researchers from coming to Oregon who might otherwise be attracted our state."
The comments came March 31 as part of the public testimony to the Joint Ways and Means Education Subcommittee on the Oregon University System budget.