Gov. Kate Brown’s recommended budgets presents two starkly different paths for Mt. Hood Community College and other community colleges and public universities across Oregon. The first would result in deep cuts to these two types of educational institutions;
the second would provide them with $2 billion in new revenue.
The Governor’s “base budget” proposal would result in a 4.7 percent funding cut, reducing Oregon’s Community College Support Fund (CCSF) from $570 million during the 2017-19 biennium to $543 million for the 2019-21 biennium. To bridge this funding
gap, MHCC and other community colleges would need to make severe cuts to programs and services and raise tuition approximately 17.5 percent each year of the 2019-2021 biennium.
The “base budget” would also eliminate the Oregon Promise grant program after the first year of the 2019-21 biennium. Established by the Legislature in 2015 and first implemented during the 2016-17 academic year, the grant has helped thousands of
recent high school and GED graduates to afford post-secondary educations.
“This cut will ultimately affect our students most of all,” said MHCC President, Dr. Lisa Skari. “By raising tuition, students will suffer. In turn, they’ll lose access to affordable education and to opportunities for career development.”
The “base budget” also does not fund community colleges’ requests of $70 million in new funding for Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs and $70 million to expand student support services for first-generation and underrepresented students.
The Governor’s alternative “investment budget” would increase the CCSF to $646.7 million – the amount that community colleges would need to maintain current programs and services and keep tuition increases to about 3.5 percent each year of the biennium.
The “investment budget” also fully funds the Oregon Promise program; meets Oregon community colleges’ requests for $70 million in additional funding for student support services for first-generation and underrepresented students; and adds $121 million
to the Oregon Opportunity Grant, effectively doubling the state’s only need-based financial aid program.
“Investing in community colleges is an investment in Oregon,” said President Skari. “The state’s ‘base budget’ does not meet our needs.”