For nearly half a decade, economic instability has caused Oregon to struggle with shortened school years and increased class sizes. As I’ve heard from so many in our community, it’s time to get our priorities straight by stopping teacher layoffs and reinvesting in Oregon’s public schools. This session I believe we will make significant progress on the right priorities.
Last week, the Co-Chairs of Oregon’s Ways & Means Committee released their framework for the 2013-15 state budget. The good work done by Co-Chairs Sen. Devlin and Rep. Buckley represents a balanced approach and is a serious departure from the status quo. The highlight is a $6.75 billion allocation for schools – nearly $1 billion in additional resources and savings above what schools had in 2011-13. This budget will stabilize school funding and rebuild our education system. It is balanced through the closure of tax loopholes, strategic reductions in increases to human services spending and PERS reforms, which may need to be strengthened further.
Funding schools and services at this level, however, requires a number of difficult decisions that are still to be made. Oregonians from all walks of life will need to join in the effort to stabilize and reinvest in our schools while keeping other vital services intact. I will continue to push for government efficiencies, closing wasteful tax loopholes, and smarter use of tax dollars so we can get more money into our schools and other critical services we all count on.
Let’s turn to education.