Gov. Kate Brown is recommending $8.6 billion in spending for early education and K-12 schools for the next two years, a boost from the current biennium but $500 million less than education groups want.
Brown said Thursday morning the budget proposal does not include any increase in operating funds community colleges or the state's public universities, but includes $350 million for building projects on campuses.
Presidents of the state's universities thanked the governor for the capital spending, but want more:
“Oregon’s public universities commend Governor Brown for prioritizing students and higher education in her recommended budget," the presidents wrote in a letter. "Ensuring a college degree is accessible to every Oregonian without taking on a lifetime of debt is how our state will remain vibrant and competitive. With limited resources, Governor Brown took great strides to protect students. The investments outlined in her budget will mean Oregon does not balance its books at the expense of those who are most vulnerable.”
“As the Legislature weighs difficult budget choices, we urge lawmakers to increase operating funds beyond the Governor’s budget. By doing so, every campus can keep tuition at a manageable level for the next two years and maintain vital support services that keep students on track to graduate. If we want to enable more Oregonians to earn college degrees at an affordable level of tuition, additional resources will be needed.”
Brown said she wants to boost state revenue by increasing the tobacco tax, closing tax loopholes and hiking the assessments paid by hospitals and health insurance companies.
Gov. Brown called her proposal "a short-term solution. It is the starting place for a broader conversation about how best to align our resources with our shared values and vision to move Oregon forward.”
This is Brown's first recommended budget since since she took office in 2015.
Brown faced tough choices when devising the two-year budget.
There is a $1.4 billion budget shortfall just to maintain current services; adding any new programs would cost even more. And because Measure 97 failed — that's the ballot measure that would have increased corporate taxes — there is already a debate in the Capitol over how to raise revenue.
So, will Brown propose budget cuts? If so, to what agencies or programs?
Will she ask for more revenue? If so, where would it come from?
The governor has said her budget priorities include maintaining funding for schools, child welfare programs and other programs that help the poor.
Brown's recommended budget is one step of many to secure funding for state agencies and programs. The Legislature will propose and approve its own budget, which could be vastly different from Brown's.