SALEM - Oregon water-use reporting will be shelved and getting a forestry degree could take longer under budget cuts lawmakers adopted for the 2009-11 biennium.

Also, Oregon farmers will find it harder to get technical assistance to address water-quality concerns and university research projects could be scaled back.

Those and other realities are surfacing in the days after lawmakers put their final stamp on a two-year budget battered by the economic recession.

Lawmakers tapped reserves, increased corporate taxes and boosted income taxes on individuals who earn more than $125,000 to buffer the blow to state resources. But in the end, no natural resources agency or state-supported university program escaped budget cuts.

Hardest hit among the agencies and the Oregon State University statewide public services appears to be OSU's Forest Research Laboratory. The laboratory, which is funded in large part by harvest taxes and general funds, is losing 11.5 percent in general funds and 10 percent of its harvest tax revenue.

In actual dollars, the laboratory's general fund support is shrinking from just under $7 million to just under $6.2 million. Its harvest tax revenue is dropping from just over $3 million in the year just concluded to under $2.7 million projected for next year.

Harvest tax revenue is down despite an increase in the tax rate from 67 cents a 1,000 board feet in 2008 to 92 cents beginning this year.

The laboratory is doing what it can to mitigate the budget reductions, said Hal Salwasser, dean of OSU's College of Forestry. But the bottom line is the forestry college is scaling back what it is offering students and foresters.

"It puts us on a road from being the top-tier forestry program in the nation to being in the middle of the pack," Salwasser said.

The college will have less research capability by the end of the current biennium, Salwasser said, and 15 fewer professors - from 55 to 40.

"What we're going to see in the long run," Salwasser said, "is it will take students a little longer to get a degree, because we won't offer as many classes or as many elective courses."

Statewide public services could face additional cuts in February, when lawmakers reconvene to address updated revenue forecasts. Also come February, the state's projected tax revenue could be down considerably, given that $733 million in tax increases are expected to go before voters in January.

The statewides, including the Forest Research Laboratory, the Extension Service and the Experiment Station, also were stung with last-minute cuts in an omnibus bill lawmakers adopted to end the session.

In the bill, the Forest Research Laboratory and the Experiment Station lost an additional 1.5 percent on top of the 10 percent in state support lawmakers previously had cut, while the Extension Service lost an additional 1.6 percent, bringing its total reduction to 11.6 percent below what it needs to maintain existing service levels.

"We didn't know it was coming," said Bill Boggess, interim director of the station. "It all happened in the 11th hour. I really don't know where it came from."

The Experiment Station is looking at cutting eight positions in the coming months to accommodate the budget reductions, Boggess said.

Long term, he said, the service is preparing for cuts as high as 20 percent.

"Over the next two years, we'll be scrambling to find savings and fill critical holes and get through the biennium," Boggess said.

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