This content was published: June 12, 2020. Phone numbers, email addresses, and other information may have changed.
June Government Relations Update
The top Government Relations priority for June continues to be budget advocacy in three areas: defending against cuts to our general fund allocation, requesting $12M in federal funding distributed from the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) fund, and advocating for additional federal dollars in the fourth stimulus package.
Our communication comes in many forms, including but not limited to letter writing, coalition online lobby visits, and regular communication with key staff members.
Racial Justice in Our Advocacy at PCC
Budget advocacy remains a key part of the work of Government Relations. President Mitsui has asked that the needs of students of color and low-income students receive additional attention. We have to fight for funding for student success programs that support those who experience oppression. Our work also includes policy tracking and participation that would improve the lives of people of color across the state and nationally.
We will be tracking all police reform legislation, which is being drafted in response to the powerful protests for Black Lives Matter. We are also monitoring funding and policy as it is developed around food insecurity, housing, and other state resources, which are needed for all students and especially those who experience oppression. In the next few months, we will likely see a national decision on DACA and we will continue to vocally support the preservation of the DACA program. Even though this will be a US Supreme Court decision, public opinion does reach our justices.
We have seen a rise in political activism nationally around Black Lives Matter. The leadership and tenacity shown by our black community leaders is inspiring. Racial injustice is not new—our students have been experiencing oppression for generations. The Government Relations department will keep up our racial justice advocacy. We will continue to be involved in policy and budgets that center the whole person. We will seek racial justice, and look past education policy at the fabric of policy and funding necessary for our whole population to thrive. We have a lot of work to do in this state. This department will never stop listening or learning, and we will center those with the lived experience to share their stories.
Overall Budget Message
“Oregon’s Legislature and Governor face impossible decisions as they confront our state’s formidable financial challenges. The priority must be putting our most vulnerable Oregonians first, including our students. The time is now to invest every state and federal resource into building a stronger, more resilient Oregon. Protecting post-secondary students is fundamental to our recovery. Higher education strengthens our economy, closes the income gap and builds tomorrow’s workforce.”
-Higher Education Advocates Revenue Forecast Press Release May 20th
Recent State Advocacy
President Mtisui’s written testimony to the Senate Education Committee from June 2nd is available here; this document accompanied his verbal testimony to the Senate Education committee. A similar testimony was given on June 9th by President Mitsui to key house members during a higher education town hall with Ben Cannon, Director of the Higher Education Coordinating Commission.
PCC worked in partnership with the American Federation of Teachers, the Oregon Education Association, and the Oregon Community College Association to develop this letter to Governor Kate Brown. It is part of long-term advocacy for additional funding from the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund. After initially being told that those funds were not going to go to higher education, we have heard that spending decisions might change. We stay committed to advocacy, even in discouraging circumstances, for just this reason. Those dollars are needed at PCC, especially for those students who did not receive CARES funding and institutional resources to help PCC address ever-changing needs related to COVID-19.
In addition to these larger moments of advocacy we have been meeting consistently with our entire PCC delegation, both Oregon House and Oregon Senate Members.
PCC is in weekly communication with key staff in the following offices: Congresswoman Bonamici, Congressman Blumenaur, Congressman Schrader, Senate Merkley, and Senate Wyden. Here is what we’d like to see in the next relief package:
- $46.6 billion in formula funding for community colleges/higher education
- $2 billion for a dedicated community college training program
- A temporary modification to the Lifetime Learning Tax Credit to help community college students get skills upgrades
Requests to Dept. of Edu.
- Release our remaining COVID funds and allow for colleges to use those funds to reimburse collective expenses
- Congresswoman Bonamici recently joined other House members in calling on Secretary Betsy DeVos to conduct adequate oversight of student loan servicers in response to reports of mistaken drops in credit scores due to non-payment of federal student loans. Congress passed the CARES Act with provisions to automatically halt payment and interest on most federal student loans without penalty until September 30, 2020. However, for 4.8 million borrowers, this relief was incorrectly reported to credit bureaus. You can read the full press release about what the Congresswoman is doing to hold Sec. Devos accountable for this mistake here.
Ways to get involved
If you are a student, community member, or an employee at PCC, we have ways for you to be involved. We ask that anyone who wants to get involved sign-up to be a PCC Ambassador. This team received specialized advocacy training, we dive deeper into the issues facing community colleges, and we contact decision makers who can make a difference.
This webpage will be your place for Government Relations Updates, updated monthly. If you have questions, please email Emma Kallaway, Government Relations Specialist, directly at email@example.com.
Emma Kallaway, Government Relations Specialist, firstname.lastname@example.org
Sarah Rose Evans, GR and PR Project Manager, email@example.com
Thank you. Onward Together.