Friday, July 9, 2010

Oregon sitting on $500 million

That's what some Central Oregonians believe.

And they're bringing the HEAT, which stands for Higher Education Assessment Team.

HEAT presented a plan to the state Board of Higher Education on Thursday that calls for a stand-alone four-year university in the region in the next 20 to 30 years.

And, HEAT wanted the state board to accept this plan immediately without any discussion.

Please, the state faces a couple billion in deficits over the next couple of years, at least. Why should the state board even consider such a ridiculous, unfunded plan?

Yes, we all want a four-year university in the Bend area. We're the largest populated area in the lower 48 states without a four-year institution of higher education within 100 miles.

But, does that fact mean we're entitled to it?

No, we have a fine school called Central Oregon Community College, Oregon's oldest community college, and there is a building on COCC's campus that houses Oregon State University-Cascades "campus" offering upper division classes and degrees.

Of course, it is not enough. Of course, we need more higher ed opportunities. But, merely wanting something does not mean we're going to get it.

This is a region in Oregon known for its hostile attitudes toward taxes, Portland, Salem and even supporting higher education.

I'm sure there are members of HEAT who believe that state government just needs to cut the fat, lower taxes and we would all live in Shangri-la. And, I'm sure these same people opposed the income taxes on the rich that Oregonians passed last January.

Well, here is some news for HEAT: the state of Oregon is flat broke. Despite furloughing state workers for 10 days and despite cutting school days throughout the state and despite cutting almost all agencies another 9 percent in June, the state is bleeding green.

Now, HEAT wants the state to set aside at least $500 million to fund a four-year university in what was once described "the middle of nowhere."

Are these people nuts?

No, just shamelessly hypocritical. They rail against government spending on one hand, and beg for government spending with the other. They want it both ways. It's what Ronald Reagan told them was possible in the 1980s. You can have it all and not worry about the debt.

Well, those beliefs have brought our economy to the edge of total collapse.

We can't have it all.

But, we can have some things, like expansion of COCC/OSU Cascades into a four-year college in the next 20 to 30 years.

If we work toward seeing COCC/OSU Cascades evolve into all this area needs, we could possibly get there.

Otherwise, we'll just have groups like HEAT whining and wailing like babies.

It's time for the state to give these babies a good spanking.

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