Editorial: Speak up at Ways and Means meeting in Bend

If you have strong views on how Oregon will spend its money for the next couple of years, the Legislature’s Ways and Means Committee wants to hear from you. Members of the committee will be in Bend on Friday to take testimony about state budget priorities for the next two years.

The hearing will be at the Bend Armory on Simpson Avenue from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. It’s open to anyone who wishes to show up, and committee officials believe there will be time for 65 or 70 citizens to speak for two minutes each.

Officials suggest that those wishing to speak arrive early to sign in.

The session gives Central Oregonians the opportunity to tell lawmakers just how important funding for Oregon State University-Cascades Campus is to the region, and they should do so.

The school is seeking $16 million from lawmakers this year, to be combined with $4 million raised locally for a new building for the school.

It is one of the biggest steps in the switch from a two-year, upper-division add-on to Central Oregon Community College to full university status — and, as such, getting it done quickly is vital.

Even though the $16 million was included in Gov. John Kitzhaber’s proposed budget, it cannot hurt to let lawmakers know that support for the plan is deep in these parts.

There are all sorts of other important budget matters before lawmakers this year, too. Schools at all levels badly need more operating money, and social services have been strapped in recent years.

In fact, it’s probably true that no part of government that receives money from the state general fund is sitting on a mountain of untapped resources.

Still, OSU-Cascades gets our vote as perhaps the most critical spending we’ll do in the next couple of years, and we believe lawmakers need to understand that. If you agree, attend Friday’s meeting. If you don’t want to speak in public, the committee is also accepting written testimony.