Although Gov. Ted Kulongoski is proposing to put $483 million into the Community College Support Fund, it still isn't enough, according to the Oregon Community College Association's Board of Directors.
The association is seeking $529 million for the Community College Support Fund — $46 million more than the governor's budget.
In addition, the association wants capital improvement projects at 14 community colleges, while Kulongoski's recommended budget supports funding for just 12 college projects.
For Portland Community College, the governor's budget proposal means an estimated $14 million over the next biennium, compared to funding in the last biennium, noted PCC District President Preston Pulliams.
But the increase still falls short of the amount needed to fill the hole created by six years of severe funding cuts and increases in mandated expenditures and costs.
"We all talk about the 'seamless education system' from pre-kindergarten through graduate school and the importance of adequate funding at all levels, but recent funding levels have done little more than keep the doors of higher education open," Pulliams said.
"Cuts over the past six years have resulted in lost opportunity, serious reductions in higher education programs and untenably large increases in tuition and fees. Thousands of students have been shut out of higher education in this state."
During the past six years, Oregon's investment in higher education has dropped significantly. In fact, the state appropriation to community colleges in 2005-07 was lower than the appropriation level in 2001.
Enrollment has dropped by 16 percent, meaning that at least 17,000 students are being priced out of higher education, Pulliams said.
At this level, PCC would add courses that help prepare students for academic success; provide college academic and student support; increase funding for technology; hire faculty; and increase financial aid for students.