Oregon looks to increase higher ed spending
- Oregon's Higher Education Coordinating Commission has approved a $943 million budget request, a 43% increase from its current spending standards for its four-year and community colleges.
- The state faces a $1 billion debt due to pension costs, and like many states, will likely see that debt increase despite improvement in the national post-recession financial picture.
- The greatest impact of state budget flux is revealed in support available to low-income students, a performance metric which will become a priority for state and federal funding considerations into the future.
Oregon officials are taking a bold step with unanimous support for dramatically increased budget requests, but it will ultimately come down to how much money is available for the governor to allocate, and if that money is too little, too late to reverse years of cuts and reductions to higher education over more than two decades.
Private fundraising and revenue creation is the top priority for today's college president, as legislators have now figured out that cutting institutions by more than 30-40% won't outright kill them, but encourages the needed efficiencies to make leaders spend smarter and more strategically. States like Louisiana and Illinois have authored the playbook from which other states are learning how to drain higher education funding, but states will have to respond with new play calling on legislative advocacy and corporate engagement to survive.