October 19, 2001

Contact: Bob Bruce, 503-725-5714

Governor Urges Priority for Instruction

KLAMATH FALLS - Governor John Kitzhaber Friday urged the Oregon State Board of Higher Education to make instruction and access to higher education a priority as it deals with current and anticipated budget reductions in the current biennium.

Speaking via video conference, the governor told Board members he expects they will resist pressures to craft across-the-board reductions for state university campuses. He said he hopes the Board will look carefully at all budget areas and then develop plans that will least harm the core mission of the campuses.

The governor recently removed 2 percent of the current budget for all state agencies to help balance the state's 2001 budget. In addition, he has asked all state agencies to propose a short-term administrative reduction plan in 2 percent increments, up to 10 percent of budgets, to help remedy expected shortfalls in the state's revenues. He has also directed agencies to prepare programmatic plans for additional cuts, again in 2 percent increments up to 10 percent, for future consideration.

Kitzhaber told the Board the state's current shortfall, estimated at $300 million for 2001, will likely grow by December, necessitating the need for a special legislative session.

In developing its reduction plans for the Oregon University System, the governor urged the Board to give continued high priority for the teaching mission of the campuses. He urged the Board to revisit the priorities he set for the system in his December 2000 state budget recommendations. "Don't automatically reject anything that's new," the governor advised, noting the importance of new, targeted funds for engineering education and the Central Oregon branch campus.

"Instruction and access to instruction is still the most important mission of the system," the governor said.

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