The Oregon Student Association’s mission of improving access and affordability for all students regularly reaches into federal policy. Below are some good articles about the bill that miraculously managed to pass the US House and Senate. OSA has been lobbying our Oregon Congressional Delegation to pass a bi-partisan bill that would limit the previously doubled interest loan rates. This bill is a start and not something students could whole-heartedly support. This bill does however keep interest rates lower in the short term. As the economy improves student loan interest rates as projected to rise.
OSA keeps a finger on the pulse of the national student movement by directing the movement locally and as members of the United States Student Association.
This year the Oregon Student Association used all 7 of our votes at USSA’s National Student Congress in New Brunswick, New Jersey. OSA’s delegates were from LCC, OSU and SOU. The UO also used one of their votes as a direct member of USSA. The Oregon delegation included the experiences of working class students, student veterans, students of color, LGBT identified students, and many other intersecting identities.
Our delegation used their varying personal and education experiences to bring forth proposals student issues; many of which were adopted by the National Student Congress. The following priority issues will direct the work of the USSA’s Board of Directors and its members for 2013-14 academic year.
USSA’s 2013-14 Priority Issues:
1) USSA’s institutionalized budget campaign which will also include direct lobbying for an improved College Reinvestment Act in the coming year.
2) Increasing the student voice through our institutionalized voter engagement campaign.
3) A new campaign targeting a reduction in student debt.
4) A new campaign on student fee and shared governance legislation.
A number of other internal issues were debated with the hopes of continuing to improve USSA’s national power and influence. Students authored and edited these policy suggestions over many days, culminating in 24.5 hours of debate in 36 hours. OSA sent Emma Kallaway (our new Executive Director) so she could network with our national partners and also co-chair USSA’s plenary debate.
Oregon’s Nationally Elected Representatives:
Alexandra Flores-Quilty USSA Pacific Northwest Regional Chair
Anayeli Jimenez DREAM Caucus Chair
John Price Community College Caucus Chair
OSA will also elect a representative for the remainder of the year. Our interim representative has been Torii Uyehara.
The Oregon Student Association would like to thank the members of the Oregon Legislature and the Governor’s office for working with the Oregon Student Association this session. Together our elected officials and students fought for the collective needs of students across the state of Oregon. For us there is little more important during a Legislative Session than the fight for increased funding for our public universities and community colleges. Students can claim great victories this session with increases to all our public colleges and financial aid for the first time since the start of the recession. Until all the budget bills have been signed and the dust settles in the Legislative Fiscal Office these numbers are approximate figures. These budgets and policy victories reflect the importance of continued lobbying and organizing efforts during the entirety of the session. Students kept the pressure up and these budgets reflect the importance of constant and quality student advocacy.
Funding for the Oregon Opportunity Grant program is set at $113.7 million, an increase of almost $15 million over the 2011-13 funding level. This amount of funding is anticipated to fund approximately 63,000 awards at an average amount of $1,800. The ASPIRE program is appropriated at $1.4 million General Fund to replace lost federal resources. This level of funding should be sufficient to have 145 sites across the state – the number of sites in the first year of the current biennium.
The state support for the 17 Community Colleges is set at $450 million representing an increase of over $50 million from the level included in the 2011-13 budget. Other General Fund programs in this budget include $7.5 million for a workforce initiative, $600,000 for skills center in Clackamas County and in Portland, and almost $675,000 for expanding and coordinating training programs at Community Colleges for community health care workers.
Oregon University System
Approximate 7% increase in general fund dollars to OUS when compared to the 2011-13 LAB. The Subcommittee increased the General Fund appropriation for public university support by $15,000,000 with direction that the money be used to reduce resident undergraduate tuition increases at the state’s seven public universities. The Subcommittee adopted the following budget note to limit tuition increases on resident undergraduate students:
OUS Budget Note
In adopting the budget for the Oregon University System, the Legislature intends that increases in the base rates for tuition paid by resident undergraduate students on all seven campuses and one branch campus (EOU, OIT, OSU, OSU-Cascades, PSU, SOU, UO and WOU) may not exceed an average of 3.5% at any individual campus in any given year of the 2013-15 biennium. For students choosing the Tuition Promise program at WOU, rates of increase over the prior cohort may not exceed 5.7% in any given year. These limits on tuition shall apply to all seven campuses and one branch campus for the next two academic years (2013-14 and 2014-15) regardless of the outcome of any governance changes that may be implemented during the biennium.
This session students opposed institutional boards for public universities. In the finals days of this legislative session, after 24 versions of the bill were debated, SB 270 did pass. Students worked to insure that any institutional board will have a designated voting student seat and tuition cannot increase above 5% annually. Students also supported the partner house bill (HB 3120) that protects the rights of students to collect and control the student incidental fee. Simultaneously, students opposed the cap on increasing the student fee more than 5% per year. Student concerns were centered on the dismantling of shared services, a loss of shared governance, and insurmountable tuition hikes over time. Governance reform has resulted in more questions and uncertainty of what lies ahead. One thing is clear university governance structure will not change the Oregon Student Association. We will continue to fight for access, affordability, and the inclusion of the student voice on every campus. We welcome the new working relationships ahead of us and the new opportunities that may be available with the addition of institutional boards.
After over a decade of intense and often heartbreaking organizing, the Oregon Legislature, along with the many organizations and individuals, passed HB 2787, Tuition Equity. Granting undocumented youth, who have graduated from an Oregon high school and have been accepted to an Oregon public university the right to pay in-state tuition. The bill passed through both chambers of the legislature fairly early on in the legislative session allowing for OSA to turn its focus and capacity to other major policy priorities AND students were able to take advantage of Tuition Equity as early as July 1st, 2013.
House Bill 2611, though not a sweeping mandate as we had hoped it would be, was a major victory for students and underrepresented communities across Oregon. Upon the decision for OSA to join the coalition this issue was given a much needed – expanded and effective – voice within the Capitol. Proving to be essential to the non-partisan advocacy and queer justice framework of this bill, it’s safe to say this bill would not have passed had students not been at the table. Licensure boards and our college campuses will be asked to provide cultural competency continuing education for healthcare providers in addition to tracking and making public which individuals complete these courses. Just one step forward in insuring Oregon college students have better access to quality healthcare.
Public Safety Reform
This session, after what some would call a legislative game of volleyball, the Oregon Legislature advanced legislation to address the cost of public safety in Oregon. With the passage of HB 3194 the legislature made a commitment to halt prison growth for the next 5 years, eliminating the need to build a new prison, and saving Oregon over $300 million in the next 10 years. Though this isn’t the bill students and coalition partners had hoped for it is a win and evidence that our state continues to move away from our over-reliance on incarceration. Oregon is showing signs that we are ready to invest in addiction treatment, mental health programs, re-entry support, and other prevention oriented programs. There is work left to do and members in both chambers are eager to continue the conversation of public safety reform.
The last month of a legislative session can be hectic. So what are student working on during dead week and finals? Here are the top issues still up for debate:
1) Funding for our schools and financial aid.
2) Tuition ceilings for public universities
3) Capitol construction dollars for community colleges and universities
4) Public Safety Reform
The best part of the week by far was the OSAC budget that passed out of the Ways and Means Committee with a $14.6 million increase in the Oregon Opportunity Grant. OSAC was also granted $3 million to create a new scholarship for 1st time college classes. These scholarships will be used for AP exam costs or college credit in high school. Student leaders across the state know that our advocacy all session long significantly improved access to post-secondary education in Oregon.
PSU students also got a chance this week to meet with U.S Senator Merkley to talk about the Sen. Warren’s “Bank on Us” bill that would bring down student loan interest rates (see photo above). This bill is unlikely to pass, but this is an example of great public policy shinning the light on the student loan bubble.
The State Legislature is under 24 hours’ notice which means a work session can be scheduled with a day notice. OSA is tracking all our legislation and lobbying every day until the end of session for access to public post-secondary education in Oregon.
I wanted to wait and send this update until after the Governor’s latest budget press conference as well as the 1st public hearing on SB 270 in the Joint Ways and Means Subcommittee on Education. So here goes…
The Governor came out on May 15th with a new compromise on revenue and PERS. He claimed he has talked with leadership of both parties and in both chambers with no avail. This proposal is meant to break through the partisan grid lock. The Governor is calling for $200 million additional in revenue creation in exchange for more PERS reform. OSA is hoping our elected officials look at all the options that could increase financial aid, level tuition increases, and improve the quality of our education. No word yet on whether these proposals will be adopted. Hopefully our legislators will be willing to cross party lines and do what’s right for education this session.
In the world of governance reform the official fiscal still hasn’t not be drafted for SB 270 or HB 3120. OUS was asked to run a preliminary fiscal putting the costs as high as $5 million per board per year for PSU, OSU, and UO. The financial impact on the regional campuses still has not be fully analyzed.
On an up note legislators are taking the concept of a tuition ceiling seriously in the form of a budget note again this year.
Finally, the best news of the week is that Cultural Competency for Health providers passed the Senate today and is now on to the Governor’s desk where it is expected to be signed into law. The Oregon Student Association worked in coalition on this landmark piece of legislation with the Urban League of Portland, CAUSA, APANO, BRO, and many other amazing coalition partners.
The work is not done. Student governments maybe in transition but our student association will be fighting hard for access and affordability until Sine Die. #cantstop #wontstop
The Capitol was a buzz again this week. Workloads died down a little for members after the last deadline, but this week it ramped back up. It sounds like Senator Johnson will be back in the next couple weeks after a terrible and unfortunately car accident. This means the Senate side is willing to schedule additional work sessions. The House got through their backlog on the floor so they are also accepting work sessions again. Cultural competency (HB 2611) had a fabulous public hearing this week with no public opposition and that bill has now been scheduled for a work session on May 14th; the same day as the OSERA lobby day!
The other OSA priority this week was starting the discussing on setting tuition ceilings for universities through budget notes. Representative Buckley is open to this discussion and OSA hopes to come to an agreement with the Oregon University System. We would all like to agree on a tuition ceiling together.
Still no word on public safety reform legislation, but we can expect amendments coming soon. Budgets continue to be an end of session discussion. Finally, from now until the end of the session we will continue to fight for victories on our 1st and 2nd tier priorities, participate in the governance debate (SB 270 and HB 3120), and of course continue to lobby hard for our budgets.
This is a hugely successful week for students in Salem. The Ways and Means Roadshows proved to be a perfect platform for students to talk about affordability and the need for more funding. We are past the half way mark of the 2013 Legislative Session so… I guess it was time for a massive statewide student rally. OSA has been building the student voice in Salem since the 1st day of session, creating a crescendo of student power. Students have been in Salem every week, building to the 500+ student rally on April 25th. Members on both sides of aisle expressed their awe of the student power in Salem. The rally was meant to call attention to our budget asks and we needed a major event to get the press for our issues. The tactic was very successful and now we keep fighting. We won’t stop until we get the budgets we need: $850 million for universities, $510 for community colleges, and $115 million for financial aid.
April 18th marked the halfway point for the 2013 Legislative Session. As of Thursday any bill that was going to move forward needed to have passed out of committee. Through hard work and strategic organizing OSA priorities are still in play and gaining ground. Budgets will not be worked out until May or June. The Ways and Means Road Show have had strong student representation. The Speaker of the House’s Communications Director said their office found student stories to be some of the most compelling part of the tour. Specifically, he remembered a student with considerable debt from Lane Community College and a struggling student parent from SOU. These are the compelling stories that keep us on the reinvestment list.
In the policy realm our priority bills are moving through the process. Cultural competency for healthcare providers (HB 2611) passed out of the Oregon House this week. We already passed tuition equity (HB2787). Public Safety Reform (HB 3194) is in a joint committee so it is not subject to the policy committee deadlines and this bill is expected to move down to Ways and Means in May.
Next week is the Oregon Student Rally for Higher Education and it couldn’t come at a better time. As we move closer to the May revenue forecast students need to be on the forefront of everyone’s mind. We need to keep fighting to get on the reinvestment list. Our Ways and Means testimonies have been pivotal and our rally is the right next step.
We are half way there. Half way to getting students the policies they need. Half way to victory.
Monday was the last day a bill could be scheduled for its 1st work session. This meant that if a bill wasn’t scheduled by Monday it is considered “dead;” unless the bill was referred to Ways and Means or a Rules committee. OSA was ahead of this deadline and all the bills we care about have been scheduled for a work session. There were some bills that made the deadline that we wished died but we will just have to keep up our lobbying against those policies.
The next deadline is that any bill that has a chance of living needs to be voted out of their 1st committee by April 18th. The 10 days between these 2 deadlines make Salem pretty hectic. Students have to stay focused on the issues we prioritize and keep our bills alive.
Budget work is really starting to heat up. The Ways and Means Co-chairs’ budget includes a couple hundred million in revenue creation. That means in order to retain the bad budget numbers we currently have we have to see some revenue changes in Oregon. Speaker Kotek’s office and Representative Barnhart put out a revenue package that would create $275 million. Students are support of revenue creation so here is what this package does.
Phase-out Oregon deductions for high income filers; single filers of $125,00 and joint filers of $250,000.
Eliminate personal exemption credit for high income filers; single filers of $125,00 and joint filers of $250,000.
Apply corporate minimum tax of 0.1% to Oregon sales above $100 million.
Include corporate income reported in tax haven jurisdictions to the water’s edge definition of U.S income for purposes of apportioning income to Oregon.
Further description: Require those corporations that are part of a consolidated filing group that have headquarters located in a tax haven to report income from those locations on their Oregon tax return. Then apply Oregon’s sales factor to apportion income back to Oregon. Proposed statute patterned after Montana’s tax haven provision established in 2003.
Outside of the budget students had another victory this week. HB 2611 passed off the House Floor 46-12-2. This bill calls for all healthcare professionals to have access to optional cultural competency trainings through their licensing boards. The licensing board will then track who takes the trainings and works to hold workers accountable. College campuses will also provide these trainings to their healthcare workers. Healthy students are more likely to complete their degree and get through on time. Now HB 2611 is on to the Senate!
The House higher education committee chose not to change the rights of security officers on community college or OHSU’s campus (HB 3114) after a heated public hearing on Monday. The other higher education gun bill that died was a bill that would have allowed for a concealed weapon’s carry on college campuses (HB 3009). The legislature chose not to move that bill forward.
Finally, a big highlight of the week was a bill that brought over 500 supporters to the state capital. So far that’s the most of any issue this session. The “Safe Roads Act” would allow all people regardless of documentation status to apply for a driver’s license in the State of Oregon. OSA does not have a position on this bill, but we will be watching the organizing work to see if we can garner any tips.
That’s right Oregon undocumented students are now welcome at Oregon’s universities!!!
Although tuition equity was without a doubt the highlight of the week OSA will continue to stay focused on the budgets and keep tuition affordable. Oregon University System, community college, and Oregon Opportunity Grant budgets are bread and butter issues for OSA. It is critical that we constantly find new ways to fight for increases in our budgets. We know that the largest contributing factor to skyrocketing tuition is the disinvestment from the state. We are happy to see that the Co-chair’s budget includes an increase for OUS and community colleges for the 1st time since 2007, but it is not enough. $728 million for universities means some of our campuses are telling students they might request tuition increases as high as 8%. Since the start of the recession tuition prices have gone up on average 58% across all OUS institutions.
Unaffordable tuition is a contributing factor to people taking longer to graduate, flat-lining enrollment, and dwindling graduation rates. We are asking you to help us fight for more OUS funding.
Here are a few ways students have tried to change the narrative in Salem.
We have had very successful call in days where students have made hundreds of calls across the state in support of our school and financial aid budgets.
Wide geographical representation from our testifiers
Constant, quality, and well researched lobbying.
A joint spring break lobby day with students, faculty, and staff
This week Cultural Competency for Healthcare Providers (HB 2611) passed out of committee and we will see a floor vote next week. We also finished the public hearings for Public Safety Reform. So things are moving in Salem, but there are some big deals in the works and we will have to wait to see how those pan out before we get a final budget.
The highlight of the week was our joint lobby day between students, faculty, and staff. We met with over 40 members of the state legislature. Our goal was to elevate the discussion around university and community college budgets as well as discuss our joint concerns regarding institutional boards. I would say the day was a great success. Thank you to everyone who came to Salem to lobby during your spring break. It was not lost on legislators that many of you gave up a sunny spring break day to talk about affordable tuition and governance reform. The morning of our joint lobby day was the university budget hearing and it was highly attended with too many compelling testimonies to fit into the 1½ hours, which is a great problem to have. Thank you to Jazmin, Dave, Alexandra, Stephanie, and Tessara for writing testimony in advance, testifying if there was time, and then helping to do a floor pull with Rep. Komp to tell your stories. It was a great day for budget advocacy in Salem on March 27th.
Next Week These Bills Are Up:
Campus Childcare Task Force with an OSA student seat (HB3149): Monday testimony 8am
Pay it forward: Monday work session 8am
Cultural Competency (HB 2611): Work session Monday at 1pm
Youth Justice Lobby Day: Tuesday
TE bill signing: Tuesday
CC Budget public testimony: 8:30am Wednesday
LGBT data collection: 8am Wednesday
Mascot bills HB 3397, SB 215, and SB 501: Wednesday at 1pm
Public Safety Reform testimony: Wednesday 5:30pm and Friday at 1pm