Portland State’s budget up 12 percent

Portland State took away $73 million from the Oregon University System budget this year, marking an 18 percent increase in state money for PSU.

Portland State took away $73 million from the Oregon University System budget this year, marking an 18 percent increase in state money for PSU.

The total Oregon University System (OUS) general fund for this year is $438.7 million, and PSU received the second largest portion of those dollars, only behind Oregon State University, which was allocated just over $100 million. Portland State’s $73 million allocation accounts for 21.5 percent of the 2007-08 OUS general fund, up from the 17.2 percent of general fund dollars PSU received during the 2005-07 biennium.

The Oregon State Board of Higher Education, which serves as the OUS governing body and oversees seven universities statewide, distributes money to each of the seven Oregon universities based on size and enrollment. The money is allocated from the OUS general fund, which comes from the Oregon Legislature following legislative sessions every two years (biennium).

Last year, PSU received $65.3 million from the general fund, meaning an improvement of about $8 million for this year. Lindsay Desrochers, PSU vice president of finance and administration, said that while she appreciates the improved budget, she feels that PSU is still a long way from operating at the necessary level of funding.

“This increase is the beginning of a healing process at PSU in terms of the budget,” Desrochers said. “It’ll likely be about eight more years before we’re operating as a fully funded school.”

Michael Fung, PSU budget director, said that one area of dramatic improvement this year was that PSU received more money from the state based on enrollment. Previously, the state has not fully funded the part-time students and students registered for online classes at Oregon schools, said Jay Kenton, vice chancellor of finance and administration for OUS.

Now, OUS has given PSU $62.3 million from its general fund based on enrollment-85 percent of this year’s general fund dollars at PSU.

“This contribution to the budget is a good direction for PSU, though there is still a ways to go before we are fully funded,” Fung said.

Kenton said that he feels a fully funded 2007-09 general fund would have been $1.2 billion. The fund total for the 2007-09 biennium is $870 million-with $438.7 million allocated to all seven Oregon universities for this year alone-and Kenton said that he hopes for a fully funded general fund from the Legislature in the near future.

“We’re making incremental progress,” Kenton said. “There’s a lot of ground left to cover, but we’re certainly making progress.”

Portland State’s total budget for the year is $345.8 million, meaning that the $73 million from OUS pays for 21.1 percent of the budget. PSU students’ tuition, fees and other charges fund the PSU budget at nearly twice that amount-$141.9 million, or 41 percent, said Kenton.

Kenton said that, historically, students haven’t paid twice as much as the Legislature for a higher education. As recently as 13 years ago, students paid about half of what the Legislature contributed to universities in Oregon, Kenton said.

“The funding for a university education has, unfortunately, been reversed,” Kenton said.

During the Sept. 7 State Board of Higher Education meeting, it was projected that next year’s general fund amount for PSU will be $77.3 million. Desrochers said the faculty salary improvement was an important increase for this year-the total funds for faculty salary increased by $746,362 this year for Portland State, with $2.24 million expected at the university in total improvements over the next two years.

“That increase is meant to put us on a level with our institutional peers, other urban campuses like San Diego State and Toledo Universities,” Desrochers said.

Kenton said that student involvement is one of the reasons the budget was so well improved for this biennium. He said that Oregon Student Association was instrumental in giving students a voice during this year’s Legislative sessions, and that continued student involvement will be the quickest route to achieving a fully funded general fund.

“It’s made an incredible difference, working with the student groups and lobbying with student organizations in Salem,” Kenton said. “We get a lot more done when we work together and not at odds with one another.”

Budget breakdown:2007-08 state funding for PSU: $73 million

2006-07 state funding for PSU: $65.3 million

Total increase: 11.8 percent

Amount of PSU budget that tuition, fees and other charges pay for: 41 percent

Projected 2008-09 state funding for PSU: $77.3 million

2007-08 increase in faculty salaries at PSU: $746,362

Projected faculty salary increases over next two years: $2.24 million