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PCC’s ‘Day at the Capitol’ underscores the need for investment in students

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Dr. Bennings poses with a group of students during the legislator visits.

Dr. Bennings poses with a group of students during the legislator visits.

A delegation of more than 50 Portland Community College advocates met with state legislators on April 5 for PCC’s “Day at the Capitol” lobbying effort where they asked them to fight for community college funding. Together, students, faculty, staff, retirees and administrators joined Dr. Adrien Bennings and PCC board members in Salem to meet face-to-face with elected representatives to tell them why affordable, accessible education matters to their community. This advocacy is critical to urge the state to invest in PCC students equitably.

Students shared their personal stories of how the college has made a difference in their lives and made their collective voices heard during this “Day at the Capitol.” PCC typically hosts this lobbying event every two years when the state’s community college budget is up for discussion in the Oregon Legislature. This year, the 2023-25 biennium budget is in question.

“PCC must maintain its affordability for students, and is asking for appropriate funding for improvements in equitable access and success,” Dr. Bennings said. “PCC also remains focused on ensuring that Oregon can grow the high-quality workforce necessary for a thriving and diversified economy crucial for the future of all Oregonians.”

Group photo at capitol

More than 50 students and college advocates visited legislators to tell the PCC story.

Specifically, an increase in state funding would ensure that the college can provide equitable access to education while helping PCC avoid costly tuition increases and retain staff and faculty. As the largest institution of higher education in the state, the college helps create opportunities for more than 50,500 students each year – many of whom are the first in their families to attend college.

While community colleges are one of Oregon’s greatest assets to build a new and better Oregon, it will take more investment than the state has previously been willing to make. Since the pandemic, Oregon’s community colleges have continued to adapt and innovate to meet the rapidly changing needs and circumstances of students. As PCC returns to full services, demand for basic needs support for students has risen and inflation has dramatically increased service costs. Colleges are making tough decisions to address budgets, and PCC is instituting a strategic enrollment planning initiative. The college is seeing positive growth in career and technical education programs, which come with a higher cost per student to provide.

If funding levels are not stabilized, colleges will need to look at additional cuts to services, which will have a negative impact on students and Oregon’s workforce. Community colleges across the state are asking for a 20.1% increase in current service level funding with $50 million in one-time funding. This would provide $855 million in ongoing funding plus one-time funds to help colleges transition out of the pandemic without disrupting services.

Supporting Community Colleges

Portland Community College is the largest educational institution in the state and is one of the largest employers in the Portland metro region. Without improved investment in workforce training, skills building and essential wrap-around support services for students, PCC cannot provide economic mobility to Oregon’s underserved communities. It benefits everyone when the state supports Oregonians to attain degrees and better paying jobs.

Learn more on how you can help PCC and the state’s 16 other community colleges get the funding support they need to build Oregon’s economic future by visiting:

About Misty Bouse

A Portland Community College public relations specialist, Misty Bouse has been working in college advancement for a decade. A graduate of University of Oregon, Misty has worked as a managing editor for BUILDERNews Magazine and as a contribu... more »