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Oregon Gov. Writes President-elect Obama

This story was written by Rebecca Johnson, OSU Daily Barometer

Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski is writing a letter to President-elect Barack Obama with a plan to simultaneously create jobs while improving Oregon universities.

The plan is to provide federal funding for public work projects on Oregon campuses for maintenance that has been delayed. The maintenance could create thousands of jobs and stimulate an ailing economy.

The Oregon University System has estimated that deferred maintenance of Oregon universities has reached around $640 million across the state.

Oregon State University has suffered the most, with an estimated loss of around $228 million.

According to Rem Nevins, deputy director of communications for the governor's office, Kulongoski has been working with the Obama transition team to come up with a plan to partner with the federal government and make the required maintenance on Oregon campuses possible.

Obama has already made plans to create 2 million new jobs through public works projects. His plan is to provide up to $60 billion over 10 years to improve the U.S. transportation systems, including highways, airports and railroads.

Obama wants to provide $25 billion of that money immediately upon taking office, which is expected to create 1 million jobs nationwide.

Kulongoski believes that it would take too long for any jobs to be created from projects geared toward the transportation infrastructure. With all the steps needed to start new construction projects, it could be up to two years before any work actually begins.

The reason he believes university projects could stimulate the economy and create new jobs quicker is that these projects are ready to begin within months of funding being approved. These projects have been in the planning stages for a long time, and all they require is the funding to get them underway.

Kulongoski hopes that the issue can be taken up as quickly as possible after Obama's inauguration.

The approval of the plan could prove more urgent upon the recent news from the National Bureau of Economic Research that the economy is officially in a recession and has been in one since December of last year.

While an estimate is not given regarding how many jobs would be created if funding is approved, the first phase of public projects would receive funding of $100 million and possibly create thousands of jobs.

Improving universities could also help the economy in the long run because students would be provided with a better learning environment.

Rebecca Johnson, staff writer, 737-2231

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