As my colleagues in the Senate and I prepare to work through the weekend to wrap up this legislative session, I’m proud to say that much has been accomplished already in 2013. We’ve passed a historic K-12 budget, brokered an agreement for insurers to pay for treatment of autism, reinvested in public safety, expanded health care access, and passed a number of bills that encourage our economy to recover and help small businesses grow. Perhaps best of all, we’ve also worked across the aisle on a number of critical issues, and a spirit of bipartisanship has for the most part been present throughout the session.
Overall this has been a very successful session, and yet, a few issues still remain. Early last week I voted against a public safety bill because of provisions that lessened penalties for certain offenses and sex crimes. And as I write this letter, I’m unsure if a “grand bargain” can be reached that would include PERS savings and modest revenue raising measures. We face a historic opportunity to change the trajectory of education funding in Oregon for the next two decades, which would allow us to send more resources to schools so they can fully restore cut school days, hire back teachers and reduce class sizes. We must take this opportunity.
If we lose the opportunity for a bipartisan agreement on PERS and revenue, I will be the first to encourage Governor Kitzhaber to bring legislators back to the table in a special session this fall.
We still have work left to do to fund our schools and critical services for the most vulnerable. I’m calling on my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to come to the table, find consensus, and do what’s right for Oregon.