Senate Dems pass K-12 budget that underfunds Oregon schools


Oregon Senate Republicans

Reject Senate Republican Proposal for Additional K-12 Funding

Salem, OR – Today, Democrats passed a $7.225 billion K-12 budget that underfunds education on a party-line vote in the Oregon Senate. After over three hours of debate on the Senate floor, Senate Democrats unanimously supported HB 5017 despite admitting the budget was inadequate. In the debate, they rejected the Senate Republican proposal to increase the funding level for education to $7.56 billion and provide a pathway to add back programs like art, music and P.E., while reducing class sizes.

“Democrat leaders argue $7.225 billion is ‘the best we can do’ for Oregon students,” said Senate Republican Leader Ted Ferrioli (R-John Day). “Passing an underfunded K-12 budget on partisan lines will negatively impact local school districts around Oregon. ‘The best they can do’ is unacceptable.”

Senate Republicans released a pathway to a $7.5 billion K-12 budget ahead of the Senate floor session this morning. Alongside the current $7.225 billion budget, freezing state employee pay, ending subsidies for gain share and increasing sustainable forest management practices would allow for a $7.56 billion for schools for the 2015-2017 biennium.

“Democrats have spent the last decade disinvesting in K-12 education,” said Senator Chuck Thomsen (R-Hood River). “Oregon has the worst graduation rate and some of the largest class sizes in the nation. $7.5 billion would have been the first step toward proving kids truly are our first priority, but I think even that number is too low.”

Despite recent economic recovery and nearly $1.44 billion in additional resources in the latest forecast, Democrats refused to increase school funding above current service levels. Education advocates and school districts around the state said without a larger K-12 budget they would be unable to reduce class sizes, add more teacher and increase school days.

“As the economy grows and revenues increase, there is no justification for passing a K-12 budget that keeps programs and services in our schools at recession levels,” explained Senator Tim Knopp (R-Bend). “We must stop the decade of disinvestment in our schools, reinvest in K-12 education and focus on creating jobs that provides stable revenue to fully fund K-12 education.”

In Their Own Words: Democrats Agree Their Proposed K-12 Education Budget is ‘Not Enough’

“Unfortunately, our budget is going to give us an inadequate K-12 number.” – Senator Sara Gelser

“I know it’s not perfect. I know it’s not enough. But it’s the best we can do right now.” – Senator Rod Monroe

“We know that this is not a game-changing budget…” – Speaker of the House Tina Kotek

“A lot of people are saying it’s not enough money, and I would have to agree…” – Senator Arnie Roblan

“I am frustrated like they are because this current budget is not enough to make up for years of cuts and what’s come before.” – Representative Tobias Read

“We know that this still isn’t enough to drive the big increase to our classrooms that Oregonians know we need.” – Representative Peter Buckley