Home Opinion Editorials OFFICIALS MUST WORK TO PRESERVE EXTENSION
OFFICIALS MUST WORK TO PRESERVE EXTENSION
Oregonians are beginning to see the realities of the states economy through cutbacks in schools as districts prepare their 2002-03 budgets. Many school districts are planning to cut staff, increase class sizes, shorten school years or eliminate programs. The severity of the cuts vary from district to district, but some schools in our area are bracing for a double-whammy due to declining enrollment.
IF SCHOOL CUTS arent bad enough, along comes the prospect that OSU Extension Service programs such as 4-H, ag experiment stations and forest research will have to be cut considerably. Gov. John Kitzhabers budget-balancing proposal calls for a 25 percent cut in OSUs statewide public services. Because the proposal falls in the middle of the biennium, the programs would have to be slashed by 50 percent to accomplish the savings by June 30, 2002.
The situation should be unacceptable to Oregonians. The Legislature and the governor must work together to find solutions that will preserve the integrity of our schools and programs such as Extension, which in the past year in Union County touched 2,522 participants in 4-H, 1,080 through agriculture programs, 470 through forestry, and 514 through home economics. A 50 percent cut would severely cut back or curtail many of the programs for next year.
And what do we hear from our elected officials? The Legislature blames the governor. The governor blames the Legislature. No one is working hard enough or together enough to come up with solutions. The stalemate between the branches of government is inexcusable.
THE GOVERNOR would like to prevent the cuts that are coming, Kitzhaber spokesman Jon Coney told The Observer last week, adding that the governor tried to find ways to raise revenue but was shot down by the Legislature.
The Legislature claims that it managed to balance the budget, but was shot down by the governors vetoes. Besides, House Speaker Mark Simmons recently told The Observer, the school funding problem in places like Enterprise isnt the states fault as much as it is a declining enrollment problem. While that is true, the problem is real and Enterprises children will be paying the price and nobody at the state level is doing anything about it.
OREGONIANS NEED to start thinking about whats at stake in terms of the pending cuts to schools and programs such as Extension. People who are unwilling to let their children or grandchildren pay the price for the states fiscal crisis should contact the governors office and their legislators.
Oregonians need to start standing up for our childrens future and programs that are important to Oregon. Tell the elected officials to stop playing partisan politics and find some solutions. Solving the crisis is going to mean politicians will have to start working together.