When Oregon votes on November 8th, public universities in Oregon will be directly affected. Currently, Oregon universities are are restricted from selling, buying or trading stocks. Universities have asked the Oregon Legislature for the allowance to invest money in the stock market.
The State of Oregon’s constitution restricts all government agencies from investing equities into the stock market. Currently, the universities are investing in short-term fixed income securities and only receiving small amounts of return on the interest. In order to get Measure 95 on the ballot, the first step was to get the Oregon Legislature to pass the House Joint Resolution 203.
The Oregon House of Representatives, the lower house of the Oregon Legislature, voted in favor of the resolution with a 57/60 vote. The final decision for passing Resolution 203 would now be determined by vote in the Oregon Senate. House Joint Resolution 203 was approved by the Oregon Senate with a 75 percent vote. House Joint Resolution 203 was paving the way for Measure 95 to be placed on the ballot for voters. With the passing of Resolution 203, Oregon was given the authority to make a constitutional amendment.
Measure 95, if passed, would allow Public universities to invest in the stock market. Public universities would be able to combine all money: tuition, fees, state appropriations, investment earnings and gifts to invest into the stock market. The University of Oregon would have a range of $325 million dollars to $475 million dollars available to invest in stocks.
Diane Dietz, of The Register Guard, reported the University of Oregon hired a banker, Karen Levear, to consolidate monies. She put the university’s equities into an account called “Cash and Investment Pool.” If Measure 95 passes, public universities hope for increased income, by following Harvard and Yale’s model of university stock investment.
Many politicians and residents of Oregon question what would happen if the stocks decrease, or the market crashes. Republican State Senator, Brian Boquist said, “If one of them [Oregon public universities] turns around and makes a bad decision, they can just go broke.”
More concerns with the proposition of Measure 95 passing have surfaced. Members of the state’s governments and communities began to question the measure. Who would choose investments and decide if they are risky? The University of Oregon has already decided who will make these decisions. The non-profit University of Oregon Foundation, a long-term generator of income for the university, has invested in stocks consistently for years. If the measure passes, the University of Oregon plans to hire the foundation to manage the Cash Investment Pool account.
Measure 95 does not have organized opposers, only individuals stating their view. According to the The Bend Bulletin, State Senator Mark Hass argues in favor of Measure 95, “All this was a way of helping them [Oregon public universities] to become a little more free and hopefully putting the brakes on tuition.”
ASLCC President, Robert Kirkpatrick said, “A pro of the measure passing would be the chance to cut costs and tuition when the market raises.”
Although Measure 95 is tailored to financially help public universities, Lane could be impacted in two ways. First, enrollment may increase due to students needing developmental classes before transferring to a public university for higher education. The second impact Measure 95 may have on Lane is the opposite. Enrollment could decrease, with tuition lower, and more funding for students offered by public universities in Oregon.
Even though senators are indifferent on Measure 95, Oregonians have the final decision.
“In politics there is a lot of personal opinion that affects one’s actions,” Kirkpatrick said.
University of Oregon office declined to comment on Measure 95.
In order for votes to be counted in the Nov. 8 election, ballots must be dropped off at voting site boxes by 8 p.m. Voting sites will be open throughout Eugene 7 a.m. – 7 p.m.