Higher education watched as approximately $14.3 million waved farewell with the defeat of ballot Measure 30 yesterday. As of 8 p.m. Tuesday evening, Multnomah County reported 57 percent of votes were “no,” while only 42 percent were in favor. Exact numbers of voter turnout varied between 43 and 56 percent.
The blow to higher ed comes at a time when universities are already in the midst of tight budgets and recent severe cuts. Portland State will lose at least $1,750,643 now that the failure of Measure 30 will require them to return those funds back to the state, and it is likely the state will ask for more, Cathy Dyck, associate vice president for finance and planning, said.
“Those are the unknowns that concern us,” Dyck added.
Di Saunders, communications director for the Oregon University System, said most schools have already come up with some preliminary plans to deal with the cuts, but added, “No one wants to jump the gun and do too much planning,” in the hope that the measure might have passed.
The cuts will likely come from different areas at different schools, Saunders noted, depending on the type of resources each school possesses. However, she added, “the potential for tuition increases” is higher now that the measure has failed. Tuition hikes are not certain yet, at this point and as for whether PSU will have to face them or not, Dyck said, “I sure hope not.”
University administrators have already begun to look at tuition rates for next year, though, and they must now address how the failure of Measure 30 “impacts everything.”
Dyck said it is still unclear where the cuts will come from at PSU, but said the administration will have time to figure that out, as it is still the first half of the fiscal biennium.
Last year, Dyck mentioned, with the failure of Measure 28, the school was faced with immediate cuts and a greater urgency to fill the funding gaps.
Saunders added that in anticipation of the possible failure of Measure 30, OUS campuses, which include PSU as well as Oregon State University and University of Oregon, have already put together some initial plans for dealing with the cuts.
Once schools have finalized their plans for adjusting budgets and making cuts according to the state’s demands, they will present them to OUS Chancellor Richard Jarvis, and then to the State Board of Higher Education. Final cuts from the backlash of Measure 30’s failure will likely be made by around May 1, Saunders said.
Dyck also pointed out, however, that Oregon has a new higher ed board, since Gov. Ted Kulongoski requested the resignations of several members back in November. The new board took office just a few weeks ago with former governor Neil Goldschmidt as board president.
“They may decide to distribute it [the cuts] differently,” Dyck commented.
After the failure of Measure 28 last year, PSU students were stuck with a permanent tuition surcharge and watched as tuition rates and fees rose in the coming months, while programs such as tennis were cut. Administrators are hopeful the failure of Measure 30 will not mean as many drastic cuts this time around, especially, as Dyck pointed out, since the school has more time to implement the cuts than last year.
The failure of Measure 30 also means cuts for K-12 education, healthcare, state police and the prison system.