HB2508 Hearing Liveblog

So, this could be interesting.

UPDATE: For the text of the bill, click here.  The background is simple:  This bill would end fees for graduate students employed by their universities to do teach and conduct research.  Email me if you want more background.

1:20pm – The House Ed Committee has moved on to HB2508.

1:21 – Rob Wagner.  Intro and very short background.

1:22 – Rob gives it up to Rob Hess.

Rob Hess reads his testimony.  He sounds nervous, but he looks good in a tie.  It sounds like he cut some of his testimony.

1:27 – Glenn Morris from GTFF is up.  I didn’t know he used to work for Legislative Media.

Glenn:  uses the term give-back.  Notes the economic situation.  Talks about the average salary, how GTFFs are part of the community etc.

1:31 Dembrow:  More of the cost of instruction is shifted to fees, is that right?  That’s outside the classic model of tuition remission.  (Also, that was one hell of a softball question.  Thank you Rep. Dembrow!)

1:33 Rep. Parker – those averages are across department?  Rob Hess:  Yes.

1:34pm – Rep. Maurer:  I am just stunned you are repped by a collective bargaining unit.

1:35 – Rep. Thatcher – looking at Glenn’s testimony.  US average wage for GTF.  Is there an average fee responsibility nationwide?

Glenn:  I don’t know.  I’ll ask my staff and we’ll get that to you.

Rob Hess: We pay more than double what our peer institutions pay.

Thatcher:  My understanding is that you want them eliminated.  I want to figure out the norm around the US.

1:36pm Gelser:  Next panel – Vaughan, Elliott, Oshnack.

Oshnack:  Maybe it’s just the mic, but she also sounds nervous.  Then again, who’s surprised.  Gelser thanks her.

Vaughan:  Brief and to the point.

Clare Elliott:  Why do British accents automatically get extra gravitas?

(Side note:  This is more repetitive than it sounded when I was helping prep it; then again, I didn’t know if everyone was going to pull through with testimony.)

Gelser:  Congratulates the grads on doing a wonderful job – tells them they seem like pros.  Nice!

Harker:  Any estimate of the dollar amount that would be taken out of the university budget by doing this?

Elliott:  I don’t know, but other members might.

1:45 Sprenger:  I’m seeing a theme arise here.  The fees are a surprise.  How is that?

Oshnack:  I know CGE is working on it, but until January 2009 it was a surprise.

Vaughan:  It was not in the letter I received.

1:46 Roblan:  I have two family members who are at universities.  And the fees are both less and covered.  My relatives are at private schools, even.

VanOrman: Are you paid 12 months or 9 months?

Panel:  Varies based on employment.

Gelser:  new panel!

Panel: Weaver, Hershberg, Peacock

Gelser:  Are you all ducks?

Panel: Beavers!

1:47pm John Peacock testimony.  He’s a smooth operator – credit to the English folks!

Hershberg:  Drops the total % budget number in answer to the previous question, but then also drops the “grant money can’t pay for fees” line.  Well, you can’t win them all- and good on him for answering!

1:52 Hershberg:  Testimony.  Takes the nationalist approach.  We got some good variety from the folks testifying.

1:54 Hershberg:  Despite OSU’s nice words, I’ve not seen progress in the 6.5 years I’ve been @ OSU…… then possibly mispronounces Oregon.  Oops.  I should’ve checked that.

1:55 pm Weaver:  Begins testimony…. then goes off on the happy cat anecdote. Wow. Combined fee bill, with fiancee, is 22% of salary.  Drops birthday money note!  This guy is great!

Overall, CGE seems to kicking some butt.

Gelser:  Question, maybe from Rob.  What are the differences between campuses?

Peacock:  No idea.

VanOrman: I was sort of serious about Head Start teachers.  Min. wage is $8.40; is that about what you are being paid?

Dembrow:  Following up on Roblan’s earlier point, their remission covers fees.  Are most schools wrapping fees with tuition?  Is this less of a problem at other schools?

Me:  OH GOD DO I WANT TO BE THERE AND TESTIFYING.  I could answer all these questions.  And Skyler, why in the world did you drop me as the Pres?  Oops =)

Komp: Are there OARs on this topic?

2:03pm Sprenger:  For Ben, can you explain the other benefits that you receive as a GA?  In addition to waiver, etc.  Other bennies besides waiver?

Hershberg: HI, facilities from PI.

2:05pm Harker:  Grant funding policies really depend on funding source.  My daughter just went through undergrad, and we knew what the fees were.  I’m on UO site and OSU site, and I see many fees.

Me:  Difference between graduate employee and student explains this.

Gelser:  Next panel is four people.  Dietel, Knutson, Libby (GTFF), Scott (GTFF)

2:08pm Dietel.  He’s the closer.  Not sure some of his arguments are best addressed to this panel, in retrospect – he’s talking to the people who had to make the cuts.

2:11pm Scott (GTFF).  Art Dept. @ UO pays a lot more than the rest of UO. “UO is a second tier school.”  Somewhere Dave Cecil just crapped himself.

2:15 Libby Schoene.  Officer and 6th-year Physics grad.

2:20 Knutson.  Removes most of testimony due to redundance.  Was part of the bargaining process to get OSU to include fee information in offer letters.  Other unis did when I applied.

Harker: Congraluates Knutson on making the change for the future.

Gelser: Heiligman from OSU is going to testify.

2:21 Heiligman:  Associate VP for Finance and Administration @ OSU.  Grads are important, but I am here to speak in opposition to HB2508.

NH:  Claims that fees

Sprenger:  Surprise fees?

NH:  Explains fee process.

I am regretting not going now.  I could kick her butt on this one.  And I call BS on the department letter – OSU HR sends out a model letter to the departments.  I’ve seen them from a wide variety of departments, and they are all the same.

Harker:  There is no free lunch.  Does the state provide anything for grads on a per-student basis?  Where do we rank nationally?

Heiligman:  We rank 45th or 46th nationwide in education.

Harker:  What are we, a 3rd-world state?

WILL SOMEONE ASK HER HOW SHE DERIVED THE ESTIMATE?

2:32pm Dembrow:  Applaud existing plan.  What about departmental fees?  Other fees?

NH:  Some fees into tuition, but not all.

Thatcher:  In your testimony, you refer to these people as employees.  Do you have a special exemption to employment law for them?  [Answer is no].  As an employer, we are limited as to what we can deduct from an employee’s payroll.  Are these deducted from paychecks?

NH:  We issue them paychecks, then charge them fees.  Two separate things.

2:36 Thatcher.  Get big fee bill – that seems harsh.  Is there a way to structure them in a way that’s more affordable?

NH: Only university that allows students some leeway on bills.  Can accumulate up to $2200 over two terms.  [She omits the 1% interest charge.

Unknown Rep:  Links lack of funding to lack of status.  Thanks people for coming.

Gelser:  Closes public hearing on HB2508 @ 2:39 pm.  Opens HB2487 to hold it over until next week.

OK, liveblog over.

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2 Comments on “HB2508 Hearing Liveblog”

  1. Russ Says:

    Can you give some background as to what this post is about?

    Thanks!

  2. Dennis Says:

    See the top. This post was also largely an exercise for me, to see how liveblogging this turned out.


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