Week 7 – 2013 Legislative Session: Tuition Equity Passes in the OR Senate!

It has been a busy week in Salem to say the least. We had our first Ways and Means budget hearing and call-in day. The Senate Chair of the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Education said he heard from students on the importance of the Oregon Opportunity Grant budget through many many calls and he will be committed to increasing that budget. Next week students will have a chance to show their fighting spirit for our university budgets and affordable tuition for the next 2 years. This means we need a big showing at the one and only public hearing on March 27th. Yes this is during spring break in Salem at 8:30 in the morning, but if you come to Salem to fight for lower tuition you can also be a part of our lobby day with faculty and staff. Students, better than almost anyone, make the most of their time in Salem.

The obvious and greatest victory of the week was not only the final public hearing for Tuition Equity, but also the final floor vote. Yes, Tuition Equity has passed in Oregon. Governor Kitzhaber looks forward to signing the bill into law. After that the law will be sent to the Oregon Supreme Court for final approval. This has been a decade long fight for the Oregon Student Association and this is an amazing victory for undocumented students all over Oregon.


Picture courtesy of the Momentum Alliance

So what’s next?

  1. The best chance we have to make the case to fund our universities is the March 27th hearing in front of Ways and Means Education Subcommittee. We will also have a lobby day on March 27th with our faculty and staff members to lobby for our budgets
  2. The Youth Justice Lobby Day is April 2nd and this is our chance to talk about policy changes that could help more young people seek higher education instead of a life in the criminal justice system.  
  3. Governance amendments will be coming out again next week and you will continue to get updates.
  4. Cultural Competency for Healthcare Providers is up for a work session next week and the hope is to adopt the amendments and get a due pass vote the same day. The “just good healthcare” coalition will be lobbying consistently between now and then.   

Week 6 – 2013 Legislative Session: Budgets, Tuition Equity, and Governance

March and April of the approximate 5th month long legislative session always feel a little hectic. Most bills are in the middle of re-drafting and all stakeholders are trying to change legislation into something they could support. The speed to “fix” legislation on either side of an issue is important; especially before a bill moves to its second chamber where it can be more difficult to make amendments. The bills that students care are also subject to these political realities. Here are some updates about OSA’s priority issues.


The co-chairs budget draft came out a few weeks ago and includes an increase in the Oregon Opportunity Grant and minimal increases for community colleges and universities. These increases need to be protected as we lobby, but students are asking for more. Students across the state are working with their campuses to discuss tuition setting and what’ clear is the only way we can achieve a 0% tuition increase is if the state invests more in our public universities and community colleges. Students have taken the brunt of impacts from this recession. For example here are the increases in tuition for resident undergrads since the start of the recession in 2007:


With increases of this magnitude no wonder students are calling for state funding levels that would get us a 0% tuition increase.

Tuition Equity

Next week, March 19th, will be the final public hearing for Tuition Equity. The senate Education committee plans to hold the public hearing and take a vote next Tuesday. The best thing we can do is show up in Salem and bear witness to this important debate: Tuesday March 19th 1:00-3:00pm in the Senate Education Committee Hearing Room C.


Originally, the debate on institutional boards for PSU, UO, and OSU was going to be confined to the Senate and Ways and Means Committee. Members of the House Higher Education policy committee are concerned about this because they want a chance to amend the bill. Today the House Higher Education Committee started a discussion on HB 2149 which would also grant institutional boards but with different requirement for those institutions. The major points of discussion today were around tuition and who should sit on the board. Students from UO, OSU, PSU, and EOU came to testify in opposition to institutional boards but also provided suggestions to making a bill better as the debate continues. As one of the university staff members who testified stated, “we have to discuss how to make this bill least bad for now.”

Policies Coming Down the Pike…

In the coming weeks we will see additional amendments to governance, cultural competency for healthcare providers, public safety reform, voter access, and the childcare task force bill. Please be prepared to come to Salem to testify on these bills as well as budget hearings for our priority budgets.

Public Hearings for our Budgets:

Oregon Student Access Commission and the Oregon Opportunity Grant: 3/19/13 8:30-10am

Oregon University System: 3/27/13 8:30-10am

Community Colleges: TBD for the 1st week in April


Week 5 – 2013 Legislative Session: Budgets and Baseball Cards

The highlight of the week was lobbying all 90 legislative offices on student priorities for the 2013 Legislative Session. We did this through a fun and creative lobbying tactic. OSA made baseball cards of every legislator in Salem and on the back were 1 of 7 student priorities. Legislators and staffers spent some of their day trading cards and trying to collect all 7 of OSA’s issues.

OSA received a lot of positive feedback on the day and the tactic. That afternoon students were present for a financial aid rally where Timber Joey (Timber’s soccer mascot) cut apart a log representing student debt and Treasurer Wheeler gave a speech on his plan to increase financial aid in Oregon. Kurt from COCC and Merriam from LCC also spoke in support. This plan is called the Opportunity Initiative, a bill that would create a sustainable endowment for the Oregon Opportunity Grant, Oregon’s only need based aid program. OSA student leadership unanimously voted to support this plan and the Senate Education Committee voted in support of SJR 1 and SB 11 to implement this policy on Thursday.

Our week was focused first and foremost on our schools’ budgets. Students are fighting for a 0% tuition increase this year. Yes, that is a lofty goal but one that is grounded in years of tuition increases during the recession and students have had enough. The highest rate of increase can be found at UO where tuition has gone up 72% in 6 years.

The “institutional board” bill was also a hot topic this week. The next version of the bill finally came out and after much lobbying there is now a prescribed student seat on those boards and tuition is capped at 5% annually if a school decides to have an institutional board. These are victories for students, but still don’t persuade students to support the concept of institutional boards in their current form. Over the next few weeks students will dive into these amendments and prepare our statement on this version of the bill. See the proposed amendments to SB 270 here.

Federal Sequestration

Federal budget sequestration was triggered by a lack of action before March 1st. Sequestration reduces federal spending by $85 billion in fiscal year 2013. The budget sequester came from the August 2011 Budget Control Act (PL 112-25), which was passed with the intent to rein in federal spending in exchange for an increase to the federal debt ceiling. Budget sequestration calls for $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction over the next nine years by instituting equal, across-the-board spending cuts to defense and non-defense discretionary spending. “Non-defense discretionary spending” includes financial aid like the Pell grant, and federal funding to our CCs and universities. Cuts in fiscal year 2014 and beyond total $109 billion annually.

What’s Coming Up?

  • Hearing on Tuition Equity (HB 2787) @1pm on March 19th in the Senate Education Committee
  • OSAC, CC, and OUS budget hearings throughout March
  • Student, faculty, and staff lobby day on March 27th



Week 4 – 2013 Legislative Session

According to Speaker Kotek’s office, “as of March 1st, nearly 2500 bills have been introduced in the House and Senate combined, with almost 1600 bills in the House alone.” This week students have been in Salem to work specifically on our budgets and governance reform. The co-chair of Ways and Means, Representative Buckley and Senator Devlin, will put out their “Co-chairs Budget” on Monday. There will be 2 draft budgets, one that is built on current general fund dollars and one that could exist if the general fund grows.  The state’s budget could grow this session if some or all of the following proposed policy changes go through: public safety reform, PERS/PEB reform, tax revenue reform, close tax loop holes, or increase those paying higher levels of personal or corporate taxes. The co-chairs budget is likely to look similar to the Governor’s recommended budget from December. Those levels could result in high tuition increases on our campuses. Students use this budget as a starting block for our continued “tuition and funding campaign.”

Students also testified to the Senate Education committee this week about our concerns related to institutional boards. Those concerns can be boiled down to competition, cost, and representation. We will continue to lobby in opposition to SB 270 regarding institutional boards until those concerns are addressed.

There has also been a new proposal that fits into OSA’s priority to help student parents this session. Rep. Gorsek’s has filed a bill (HB 3149) which would create a task force to research and come up with solutions to better provide childcare for student parents at community colleges. This is a great policy option for students and fits perfectly with our goal of increasing the Student Parent Childcare Fund by $277,000 this session.

All of OSA’s priorities will be discussed at length by students at board meetings March 1st and 2nd and we will be back to the capitol 8am Monday.  Please remember that Thursday March 7th is OSA’s baseball card day in Salem as well as Treasurer Wheeler’s Opportunity Initiative rally and lobby day. It is going to be a great week and just the advocacy efforts we need the same week the 1st draft of the budget comes out.


Week 3 – 2013 Legislative Session: Tuition Equity Passes the OR House!

This week OSA was focused on lobbying for all our bills with a special focus on finalizing our last few bills because the deadline for bill submission was 2/12/13. We also had a major victory this week when Tuition Equity passed the OR House 38-18-4!

Budget: A Fight to Make College More Affordable

Oregon’s post-secondary education budgets are always our top priorities. A new revenue forecast came out this week:  http://www.oregon.gov/DAS/OEA/Pages/economic.aspx#Description_and_Release_Dates

The March 20131 revenue forecast shows that revenues from current biennium are higher than projected by about $160 million compared to the December forecast. Or about $100 million more than was projected in the May 2011 forecast which was used to create the 2011-13 biennium budget. Revenue for the 2013-15 biennium is down about $70 million from the last forecast. This means the $100 million up should cover the $70 we are projected to be down and the Governor’s budget request can remain intact without further proposed budget cuts.

Policy Bills: Opening Doors to a College Education

First, Tuition Equity did pass the Oregon House. This bill was 1st introduced in 2003. Yes, OR has been debating this issue for 10 years and this was the 1st time the House passed the bill. Now, we have to get it through the Senate, a chamber we’ve passed the bill through twice before. This doesn’t mean it will be smooth sailing; we still have to insure that 16 of the 30 Senators vote yes on House Bill 2787 as soon as possible.

Cultural competency for healthcare providers was up for a work session this week, but no amendments were included at this time. Opponents and advocates are still working to find a compromise and consider further amendments.

The Joint Committee on Public Safety met again this week and introduced Packet Option 1 from the Commission on Public Safety Report. This does not mean those bills have support yet, these bills will act as a starting point as they start to draft amendments.

Next week the Senate Education Committee will take up Treasurer Wheeler’s Opportunity Initiative proposal as well as institutional boards for PSU and UO (SB 270). The House Higher Education committee will meet every Friday at 8am to discuss governance and their Monday meeting will be dedicated to the Pay It Forward concept.

The moral of the story is that students are staying busy and already proving that a dedicated constituency can yield some serious victories this session.

– Emma


This week OSA had over 100 students in the capitol for various bills that would greatly impact students in public post-secondary education. Our primary focus is always around budgets and financial aid. OSA is working with the Treasurer’s office to move the Oregon Opportunity Initiative that would create a sustainable fund for the Oregon Opportunity Grant; Oregon’s only need based aid. This week the hearings for those bills were up on Tuesday as SB 11 and SJR 1.

Wednesday was a big day in the capitol for tuition equity!!!! OSA is one of the lead lobbying organizations working on this bill with advocates from all over the state. HB 2787 had its first public hearing on Wednesday morning at 8 AM and over 300 supporters came out. The hearing was moving and truly reflected the importance of this bill. We then delivered supportive Valentine’s Day cards to all 90 legislators and had 26 lobby meetings.

That same evening we made sure to monitor the conversation around SB 344 “the Facebook privacy” bill that would insure that students never be required to give up their social media passwords to coaches, administrators, or employers.

The OSA lobbyist made sure to stay late on Wednesday night to monitor the 1st meeting of the Joint Committee on Public Safety. This meeting was a review of the Commission on Public Safety’s work. There is no bill or bill number for public safety reform at this time.

Friday this week was about administrative costs and reporting of hiring practices at our institutions and OSA testified in support of the reporting bill HB 2152.  This bill would require CCs and OUS to report their staff and student to staff ratios so students can see where their tuition dollars are going.

This week ended on a positive note with OSERA students testifying in support of HB 2611 which would require cultural competency training for healthcare professors across Oregon and would include healthcare providers on campus.

Next week will bring further discussion about governance, TE, cultural competency, and social media. Budget negotiations and presentations to Ways and Means will start the week of February 25th.

– Emma

Earned Media Around Tuition Equity This Week:

Oregonian – 02/13/2013 – Emotional legislative hearing on tuition equity leaves supporters crying, opponents fuming

Register-Guard – 02/13/2013 –New tack on tuition equity

Statesman Journal– 02/13/2013 – Committee begins hearing on tuition bill

Statesman Journal– 02/13/2013 –  Immigrant tuition hearing draws crowd

Albany Tribune – 02/13/2013 – Courtney: Tuition Equity Is About A Path Of Opportunity For Kids

Bend Bulletin – 02/14/2013 – In Salem, testimony on tuition equity

OPB – 02/14/2013 – Supporters Of ‘Tuition Equity’ Pack Hearing Rooms In Salem

Oregonian – 02/15/2013 – Tuition equity bill may clear first legislative hurdle: Oregon Legislature today

Oregonian – 02/15/2013 – Tuition equity bill — with some tweaks — expected to reach full House soon

Statesman Journal – 02/15/2013 – Oregon tuition equity bill gets amended

MHCC Advocate – 02/15/2013 – MHCC students join fight for tuition equity



Week 1 – 2013 Legislative Session

This was the 1st official week of the 2013 Legislative Session. The House and Senate convened at 11:00 AM on Monday, February 4th, and committees held public and informational hearings the first day. The Oregon Student Association was in the building all day every day this week. We are lobbying legislators for more funding for our schools and on our three priority issues.

After speaking with members of the Joint Ways and Means Committee this week it looks like there will be 2 versions of the Co-chairs budgets. One budget based on the majority of Oregon’s policies staying the same. The other budget is based on funding that would be available if the Oregon Legislature made changes to public employee retirement benefits (PERS changes) and/or took on public safety reform which is projected to increase by $600 million in the next 10 years. Those budgets will be out in March most likely. OSA will be asking for more than the Governor’s Recommended Budget; $850 million for our universities and $510 million for our community colleges. Those are the general fund levels necessary to keep tuition increases below 5% for the next year.

As far as our policy priorities are concerned: Tuition Equity will be up for its first hearing on February 13th from 8am-10am and Cultural Competency for Healthcare Providers will be up on February 15th from 1pm-3pm.

Governance reform was the hot button topic of the week. Although, after surveying 10,000 students around the state, this is not a top priority for OSA we are participating in any conversation about these changes because they could have a significant impact on the cost and accessibility of our public post-secondary education institutions. Senator Hass, chair of the Senate Education Committee, held a public hearing on institutional boards for UO and PSU this week. Amendments will be worked on over the next month. It is clear that there is significant interest in moving this issue forward quickly.

We are almost done meeting with all the freshman legislators and we are working closely with all those elected officials that represent districts where students live and vote. Since we register students to vote in all 90 house districts that means we care about how every legislators feels about student issues this session.

This week was a great start to session everyone and thanks to all those organizing around the state to make college more affordable and accessible to everyone.


December Work Days

Most students go home their first week of winter break, but that’s not true for the leaders of the Oregon Student Association. This week students from all across the state gathered in Salem for the final meeting of the 2011-2013 Legislature. Students from PSU, UO, EOU, WOU, SOU, LCC, SWCC, and LBCC were in the capitol to share a unified message of increasing access and affordability of Oregon’s post-secondary education.  We focused our advocacy around funding for our schools,  financial aid dollars, and our shared policy priorities of TE, school not prisons, and cultural competency for healthcare providers. Students met with returning legislators to discuss OSA’s legislative agenda for the 2013 Legislative Session and we also met with exiting legislators to thank them for working with students and we asked them for tips to improve our advocacy. Here are some issue updates from our week lobbying in Salem.

Public Safety Reform

Governor Kitzhaber’s Commission on Public Safety has started to finalize their recommendations. Commissioners agree that there needs to be some changes to juvenile sentencing guidelines in this state. The Oregon Student Association agrees that we need to encourage Oregon’s youth to be in school and not jail. We are looking forward to the final recommendations from this committee and hope legislation is developed quickly.

Tuition Equity

Legislators are interested in seeing the bill and having a new conversation about this important issue now the federal government has halted the deportation of DREAMers. This policy is called DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) and if a student qualified for DACA they will also have a legal path to working and living in Oregon. We must allow these students access to instate tuition. Changes in this federal policy makes some legislators in rethinking their previous opposition to Tuition Equity.


The Governor’s office presented his next step in post-secondary education governance reform. The proposal that is being discussed is will consolidate the Community College and Workforce Development Agency and OUS into one larger agency of the Department of Post-secondary Education. The plan then also gives UO and PSU institutional boards. This will be discussed in more detail in January by the OSA boards.

We are looking forward to bringing the student voice to Salem again during the first working days of the 2013-15 Legislature, also called the January Organizing Days. Please get ready to bring your lobbying skills to Salem January 14th-17th.

Have a wonderful rest of your break everyone!