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Lariviere’s plan

5/15/2010: Two news reports about Pres Lariviere’s reform plan. Ted Sickinger of the Oregonian’s story could not be much more negative, ending on this note:

But neither sitting state Treasurer Ted Wheeler nor his Democratic opponent in Tuesday’s election, Sen. Rick Metsger, D-Welches, appear supportive of using the state’s borrowing capacity to fund stock market speculation.

“I am interested in ideas to create stable funding for higher education, but I am skeptical of using long-term debt to cover operating expenses,” Wheeler said Friday. “Debt is more appropriate for funding capital projects.”

Some call it speculation, some call it investment:

“It’s a trade-off of risk,” said John Chalmers, a UO finance professor who worked on the plan. “We’re trading political risk for investment risk, and we can plan for investment risk. That’s what endowments do.”

Greg Bolt in the RG focuses on the political aspects:

And, as challenging as the financing side of the proposal is, it is the governance issues that could prove the hardest sell in Salem. The plan takes away both the Legislature’s ability to control the university by holding the purse strings and its direct authority over tuition and most other aspects of university management, giving that instead to an appointed board of trustees.

Legislators have never shown much appetite for surrendering those powers. For at least the past five legislative sessions, the Oregon University System has proposed major changes in its relationship with the state that were less comprehensive than what is in the UO’s current proposal, and few ever were approved.

Well this has certainly succeeded in making everyone’s agenda clear – we’ll see what happens next.  The white paper is at the official UO website here, there are a few comments there already.

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