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Legislative session split

The 2001 Legislative session left many with a bad taste in their mouths after hearing of the $96 million budget cut from the Oregon University System budget. However, PSU is preparing to enjoy the benefits of other budget changes: $26.5 million dollars for the proposed Northwest Center for Engineering, Science and Technology building and $1.2 million for the proposed Native American Student and Community Center.

Portland State received authorization of $26.5 million dollars in Article XI-G bonds (Article XI-G bonds are basically government loans), towards the construction of the Northwest Center for Engineering, Science and Technology building, which is estimated to cost approximately $60 million.

Debbie Murdock, assistant to President Daniel Bernstine for government relations, described the authorization of $26.5 million as, “the largest amount of bonds ever authorized for an Oregon University System building.”

In addition to the new building, the legislature also approved $1.2 million in bonds for the proposed Native American Student and Community Center (NASCC) at Portland State.

The Center was strongly lobbied for last year by Oregon University System student representatives, Native American community members, student government and the project’s co-sponsors, the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES).

The NASCC is expected to cost a total of $4 million, of which $3.5 million has already been raised. “We are continuing to raise the money we need,” Murdock said.

The construction of the NASCC is expected to take 18 months and should begin in Spring 2002.Portland State was also granted permanent property tax exemption status this legislative session. The property tax exemption covers all OUS parking structures and facilities, and will save PSU alone at least seven hundred thousands dollars per year.

Many still feel that the $96 million cut left Oregon universities unable to successfully continue all existing programs and fear the long-term consequences. Student body president Mary Cunningham said, “The hand we were dealt was pretty grim.”

Cunningham also emphasized the budget cut and the bond approvals are separate issues. “They are two separate bills, so the money that was approved for Portland State projects did not come out of tuition funds.”