by Jon Eames, Eames Consulting
After what most consider one of the most challenging and strangest legislative sessions in Oregon’s history, the 2021 legislative session adjourned Sine Die in the early evening of Saturday, June 26. Not only were legislators, staff and stakeholders limited in their ability to meet in-person due to the pandemic, Oregon’s fiscal outlook has been a virtual roller coaster of revenue swings of billions of dollars over the last 18 months. The difficult environment required advocates, including the Beaver Caucus, to use every tool necessary to promote, and ultimately pass, investments and policy priorities.
To that end, the Beaver Caucus stepped up and, once again, became a leading champion of both higher education funding and targeted capital investments for the Student Success Center at OSU-Cascades and the renovation of Cordley Hall on the OSU Corvallis campus. From numerous Zoom meetings with legislators to a furious letter-writing campaign to individual phone calls to legislators throughout the state, the Beaver Caucus used their advocacy expertise and their wide breadth of support to encourage the Legislature to prioritize these important projects. And the advocacy worked!
The Legislature approved the following bonding requests through Senate Bill 5505:
- $13.8m for OSU-Cascades Student Success Center
- $86m for Cordley Hall Renovation
- $40m for Reser Stadium West Grandstands
- $80m for Shared Capitol Renewal Fund
In addition to the Beaver Caucus’ capital construction priority requests, OSU’s other legislative funding priorities were also largely included in the final budget. The Legislature approved increased funding for operating costs (Public University Support Fund), student financial aid (Oregon Opportunity Grant) and Oregon State University programs serving student success, research, OSU Extension and outreach programs statewide. Coordinating closely with the OSU Government Relations team, our shared advocacy also achieved the following investments:
- $900m for Public University Support Fund (7.5% increase)
- $200m for Oregon Opportunity Grant ($28.8m increase)
- $151.9m for Statewide Public Service Programs including OSU Extension, Ag Experiment State, Forest Research Lab (5.88% increase)
- $49.4m for Oregon Outdoor School (full funding based on May lottery revenue forecast)
- $44.9m for State Programs including OSU Engineering Technology Sustaining Fund, TallWood Design Institute, Fermentation Science, Signature Research, Marine Vessel Program, Oregon Climate Change Research Institute, Institute for Natural Resources and the Oregon Veterinary Diagnostic Lab (5.88% increase)
These investments would not have been possible without the tremendous support of students, alumni and friends of OSU over the last two years. In particular, the funding for the Student Success Center in Bend was a multi-year effort which combined student voices with alumni leaders in the Central Oregon community. The sustained advocacy over numerous legislative sessions is a strategic template from which future efforts will draw for many years to come.
Thank you to everyone who pulled together to make this happen. We couldn’t have done this without you!