OSU’s State Affairs Director Jock Mills provides new legislative update

Jock has developed quite a following among those at UO who are interested in what’s happening in Salem, given that UO’s own State Affairs Office has a hard time rounding up 5 votes in the HECC. His latest:

From: “Mills, Jock” <Jock.Mills@oregonstate.edu>

Subject: [Government_Relations_Update] May Update: Revenue issues, upcoming deadlines, and more

Date: May 30, 2017 at 2:19:15 PM PDT

To: “‘government_relations_update@lists.oregonstate.edu‘” <government_relations_update@lists.oregonstate.edu>

This report provides a summary of recent actions and proposals on a wide range of issues, including a rundown of some key bills under consideration as the legislature gradually nears it July 10 deadline for adjournment. As the legislature nears adjournment, leaders are taking a number of steps to speed things up.  On Monday, Senate President Courtney announced that committees are now on “one-hour notice,” meaning that instead of waiting the normal 48 hours after posting an agenda, committees may now meet with an hour’s notice. This Friday, June 2 marks the last day committees in each chamber may approve bills from the other chamber. Following the committee deadline, policy committees may hold informational hearings, but their work in approving any further legislation is concluded. The only committees remaining in operation for the purpose of considering legislation will be the Joint Ways & Means Committee and the Revenue Committees and Rules Committees in the House and Senate.

Revenue Issues

The state’s most recent quarterly revenue forecast, issued on May 16, indicated that while still growing, Oregon’s economy is slowing down. The forecast for the 2015-17 biennium shows that revenues are expected to exceed the 2% “kicker” threshold by some $69 million, resulting in some $400 million in revenues received this biennium to be refunded to Oregon taxpayers.

Because higher income Oregonians pay more income taxes, the state’s kicker works in reverse–creating significant benefits for those with high incomes, while providing few benefits for those with low incomes. Kicker checks for 80% of Oregon taxpayers will fall below the average refund of $210. The top 20% of Oregonians will receive checks well over double the average check amount. The top 5% of income earners are projected to receive refunds well over five times the average check. Refunds for the top 1% of taxpayers will be over $4,000, while the bottom 20% of taxpayers will receive a $5 refund.

The May forecast is used to calibrate the state’s budget for the 2017-19 biennium. Given the forecast for the current biennium, legislators will need to set aside some $400 million for the kicker, while developing a state budget that still faces a $1.4 billion shortfall.

Legislators have fewer than seven weeks before the deadline to adjourn, which has resulted in both renewed calls for revenue reform and an increasing realization that there may not be time to strike a deal on a new tax structure. The debate over revenue reform is not only about whether it is needed but also about how broadly a new corporate gross receipts tax might affect business, how it might be designed to minimize the effect on businesses with narrow profit margins, how to adjust for possible imbalanced impacts on low-income Oregonians, and how to avoid “pyramiding” by which the same product is taxed multiple times.

It may not be possible for legislative leaders to garner the bi-partisan three-fifths majority need to approve a tax overhaul, causing a number of legislators to observe that a special legislative session may be needed. To avoid lengthy and disruptive deliberations, in the past, special sessions have relied on a significant amount of preparatory deal-making before legislators or the Governor calls them into session.

In view of the impending deadline for the 2017 session, last week the seven university presidents sent a letter urging the Governor and legislative leaders “to confront the painful and costly realities of inadequate revenue streams and debilitating cost drivers.”

We ask that you carefully consider and agree upon a path forward for the future, making the difficult, but necessary choices to raise revenue to invest in higher education while curbing unsustainable costs at the same time, and grow the economy. We need you to look for solutions that are politically viable and can withstand scrutiny from civic leaders, elected officials, courts, and voters. We will join you in supporting these actions.

The Oregonian editorialized that “the time has come” for a “less volatile revenue stream that can help pay down the massive unfunded pension liability created by years of bad legislative and administrative decisions.” The paper cited a proposal by Sen. Mark Hass (D-Beaverton) as “more fair and attainable than other proposals.”

Legislators appear to be making more progress in developing a health care provider tax and agreements over the taxes and fees needed to finance a statewide transportation package but it is not evident that any Republicans are ready to support a general revenue package, or what budget reductions or “cost containment” actions are needed to obtain Republican support for a tax increase.

In the meantime, the Joint Ways and Means Committee is starting to approve non-controversial state agency budgets, particularly for those agencies that rely on fees and other funds for a majority of their financing.

Higher Education Bills

Legislators are making progress on most higher education policy bills, while hitting snags on others.

Forest products harvest tax: The House Revenue Committee is expected to consider amendments toHB 2270, which renews the forest products harvest tax. The amendments would both eliminate provisions that require legislative approval to renew the tax each biennium and reduce funding for theOregon Forest Resources Institute in order to pay for firefighting costs.

Credit for Advanced Placement scores: This week, the House Higher Education Committee will consider amendments to SB 207, which, as passed by the Senate, would require universities to accept scores of 3 on advanced placement tests for college credit. Community colleges and universities are seeking provisions that ensure faculty retain control over the process by which credits for post-secondary education are considered and awarded.

Financial aid information: The House Higher Education Committee approved SB 253, which requires universities to provide information about debt burdens to students. Universities have sought clarifications in the bill that would enable institutions to provide a generic table of loan repayment information based on a model from Nebraska.

Faculty bargaining units: The Senate Education Committee is considering amendments to HB 3107,which would enable supervisors to participate in unions on university campuses. Clarifying amendments ensure that supervisors would be in separate bargaining units.

Information on high school graduates: The House did not concur with amendments to HB 2147,which would require post-secondary institutions to provide ODE and the HECC information on Oregon high school graduates. The House and Senate have appointed Conference Committee members to iron out their differences.

Cultural competency: The Senate Education Committee is slated to consider HB 2864, which establishes expectations for higher education institutions to develop and implement programs that seek to improve the cultural inclusion climate for students, faculty, staff and administration from diverse backgrounds.

Impact of legislative mandates: The Senate Education Committee will be considering HB 3288, which would require public universities to report on the impact of legislative mandates as well as causes for increased administrative positions. Universities are seeking amendments to revise the “whereas” clauses in the bill.

Funding for higher education programs serving veterans: Universities continue to work with bill sponsors and Oregon Department of Veterans Affairs on SB 143 to identify uses for funds approved under Ballot Measure 96. Amendments to the bill would enable one-time funds for universities and community colleges that have established veterans programs. Institutions have indicated ongoing funding is needed to provide consistent and meaningful support for veterans.

Oregon Talent Council: The Senate Education Committee has approved HB 3437, which would wind down the Oregon Talent Council and shift responsibilities for developing a talent plan to the renamed State Workforce and Talent Development Board. The Joint Ways & Means Committee will need to approve $1 million in funding for the grant program that was previously administered by the Talent Council.

Foster children in higher education: The House Higher Education Committee approved SB 395,which would require the HECC to work with DHS and public universities and community colleges to determine the number and graduation rates of former foster children.

A number of bills have been approved by relevant policy committees and are awaiting consideration in the Joint Ways & Means Committee because they involve funding issues. These include:

  • SB 201 Retroactive Fix for Out-of-State University Employees
  • SB 214 Establishes Alternative Retirement Plans for Postdoctoral Scholars
  • SB 805 Provides a $9.4 million increase for the OSU Statewide Public Service Programs – Extension, Agricultural Experiment Station, and Forest Research Laboratory – to meet their continuing service level.
  • SB 285 Provides $4.6 million as a state match for a USDOE wave energy grant awarded to OSU.
  • HB 2582 Establishes a University Research “Fighting Fund”
  • HB 2729A Textbook Affordability (Open Educational Resources)
  • HB 2782 Provides $69.5 million in capital funding for the expansion of the OSU-Cascades Campus.

Advocacy Efforts

OSU-Cascades: Last Wednesday, May 24, the Senate Committee on Business & Transportation heard from a contingency of economic development advocates from Central Oregon in support of the full expansion of the OSU-Cascades campus. To view the hearing, click here.

Beaver Caucus: On Tuesday, May 23, a team of volunteer advocates including students, a former state legislator, alumni, and industry representatives participated in lobbying meetings with legislators. They advocated for increased financial support for all seven public universities, expansion of the OSU-Cascades campus, and restoration of funding for the OSU Statewide Public Service Programs – the Extension Service, Agricultural Experiment Station, and Forest Research Laboratory. Find more information about the Beaver Caucus here.

If you have questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Jock Mills
Director, Government Relations

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One Response to OSU’s State Affairs Director Jock Mills provides new legislative update

  1. David Igl says:

    When the money stops flowing, the klan stops klaning
    Harry Crane Investigative reporter – Salem Capital Journal 1922

    There are three distinct KKK major groups in US history. The second one, the Fraternal Order, wasn’t violent and it had very little to do with black/white relations, especially in Eugene. It was an organized financial racket. It existed not to promote the concerns it claimed to represent, but to make money for those who operated and promoted it. The operators opposed violence because violence would interfere with their income, by bringing in the police, politicians and government officials.

    The simple truth is that some crooks sold Professor Dunn a membership in a new fraternal order. The sales representatives, (called Kleagles) said the fraternal order would support Prohibition and fight vice and corruption brought on by the bootleggers. Prohibition had just gone effect in 1920. That was the driving force for sales of memberships which were primarily outside the South. This was the number one sales pitch of the new fraternal order nationally. Dunn, because of his high status in the community, was given the honorific title of, “Exalted Cyclops”. He never controlled or directed its activities. Because of his busy schedule, he would have had little time for it. The Kleagles ran the Klan, it was their full time job. Dunn’s relationship with the klan was so inconsequential that there is not even any mention of it in his scrapbooks and the community of his time knew that his involvement was inconsequential.

    The sales representatives (Kleagles) told different stories to different people about what the klan was. The Kleagles would say anything to make sales. All of their income came from sales. When they arrived in Eugene, they didn’t represent their new fraternal order as either anti-Catholic or “White Supremacist.”

    Dunn was a Methodist and a supporter of Prohibition. He was extremely ecumenical and, as a devout member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, was very racially progressive and pro integration. Being a devout member of that church meant a commitment to racial integration and respect for all people.

    Within a few months, the crooked Kleagles were exposed to the solid citizens of Eugene (including Dunn), and they disassociated from the local fraternal order chapter. The authors of the denaming report didn’t know their topic, the only had four weeks to research and write the report, and they made all kinds of false statements that are not supported by any evidence. For example, “We know Dunn was in charge of the klan for years.” This statement is not true. The authors falsely cite to a book that not only does not support this assertion, but it doesn’t even mention Dunn. Ignoring Dunn’s entire life, the report points to a blank application for membership form and assures the readers of their report that they can be confident that this proves Dunn was a bigot. The form actually is a membership form for a different fraternal order that came into existent 5 years after the form was allegedly shown to Dunn. The report claims the Fraternal Order was a terrorist organization. Review of both qualified KKK experts and the Oregon primary source literature demonstrates that this is nonsense.

    Dunn’s title was honorific. He actually had very little to do with the order during the short time that there was a connection. The contemporary investigative reporter, Harry Crane, referred to people like Dunn as “victims” of the Klan.

    The sales representatives first arrived in Eugene in July of 1921. By January of 1922, the Kleagles (sales representatives) in Oregon began using inflated anti-Çatholic rhetoric, in order to have causes that would attract new members and special assessment fees. They told all kinds of contrived conspiracy stories of Catholic plots to take over the country. Much of the money collected went into the Kleagles’ pockets. Anti-Catholic in Eugene consisted of claiming that the UO was comprised almost entirely of Catholic faculty and students. It was allegedly run by “secret Jesuit priests.” Anyone who claims that Professor Dunn was “running the Klan” must demonstrate that this is what Professor Dunn was doing and that he was doing this so as to hustle the “lesser lights of the community out of money.” This never happened and that is why no one ever mentioned it.

    Professor Dunn was not involved in running cheap financial hustles by claiming that the UO was operated by “secret Jesuit priests.” Had he done so it would have been commented on by many, and it was commented on by none for seventy years. Forty years after the KKK chapter events and 25 years after his death, reflecting a lifetime of outstanding scholarship, service to his community, and service to the students, the University of Oregon honored him by naming Dunn Hall for him. Misinterpreting the presence of Dunn’s name on a list of Exalted Cyclops, 70 years later, Historian Toy first published that Dunn organized and ran the KKK chapter. He simply made the story up. He had no support for these assertions.

    Despite being informed that he has been promoting nonsense, Michael Schill continues to demonstrate his commitment to pandering to groups on campus by not only by promoting
    this clearly failed report, but by making bizarre statements in an attempt to connect Professor Dunn, the University of Oregon, and the people of Oregon to the lynchings of Blacks, events that never occurred. Naming the former Dunn Hall for Mr. Unthank, without clarifying the damage that has been been done to Professor Dunn, would be to sully the memory of Mr. Unthank, not honor him.https://realdunn.blog/

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