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Tax measures' failure could hurt RCC

If voters reject two tax measures intended to help balance the state budget, Rogue Community College would have to trim at least $1 million from its spending in the next two years, school officials said.

This week, state officials released an initial tally of possible cuts that would be required if Measures 66 and 67 are defeated in a January referendum election. Health, education and public safety agencies developed lists for cuts that would pare 5 percent or 10 percent from their budgets.

The Oregon Department of Community Colleges and Workforce Development prepared estimates under both of those scenarios for each of the state's 17 community colleges based on the funding formula the state uses to distribute general fund money to the schools

A 5 percent cut would eliminate $1.1 million from the RCC budget over the next two years, RCC's Chief Financial Officer Lynda Warren said. A 10 percent cut would slash $1.9 million, she said.

"We would have to reduce services," Warren said, noting that officials haven't determined where the cuts would be made.

They have started looking for places to trim, but would expect to work with employees, students and unions to decide how to handle the belt-tightening.

"It would be really, really tough," Warren said, noting that state support for community colleges has dwindled in recent years and RCC's budget has remained relatively flat even as enrollment has climbed.

"We are the first responders to economic crisis," Warren said. "If we face these cuts, people who desperately need our services won't get them."

As broad details about potential cuts across the state came out in a report by the Legislative Fiscal Office this week, a spokesman for the campaign opposing the tax hikes told The Associated Press that the list was a scare tactic, compiled to influence the election.

The election is Jan. 26, with vote-by-mail ballots going out near the end of the first full week of the year.

Measure 66 would increase taxes on households earning more than $250,000 on a joint return, or $125,000 for a single filer. Measure 67 would increase taxes on corporations netting more than $250,000 and raise the corporate minimum tax from $10 to at least $150 and as high as $100,000 on businesses with $100 million in Oregon sales.

If approved, the two measures would raise $733 million in revenue, about 5.5 percent of the $13.3 billion state general fund budget.

Reach reporter Anita Burke at 776-4485, or e-mail aburke@mailtribune.com.