SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Republicans in the Oregon Senate were a no show for a $1 billion education tax vote, bringing the chamber to a halt.
All 12 Republicans were missing Tuesday morning, denying the Senate a quorum. That means there weren't enough people to formally move ahead with a vote.
Senate President Peter Courtney waited for Republicans to show and sent the chamber's chief law enforcement officer to track members down. When no Republicans showed, Courtney recessed the Senate until later the afternoon.
Senators were set to vote on an additional $1 billion per year for schools one day before a statewide teacher walkout over funding.
Senate Minority Leader Herman Baertchiger told reporters Monday Republicans were cut out of discussions and don't agree with the proposed tax on businesses to fund schools.
Both Democrats and Republicans released statements commenting on the walkout:
“When the people send you here to serve, I think you ought to show up for work,” Senate Majority Leader Ginny Burdick (D-Portland) said. “It costs the taxpayers about $6,750 per day in Senator salary and per-diem costs, not including support staff and other expenses. When we don’t have a quorum, none of the work we were sent here to do can get done, at a significant cost to Oregon’s taxpayers. We came here to work for every Oregonian, and the Senate Democrats take their responsibilities not just as a duty, but as a privilege. We’ll be here when the Republicans decide to come back to work.”
“Education is a top priority for Republicans, and I am confident we can fund our schools and solve the state’s PERS crisis without crucifying businesses, like HB 3427 will,” said Senator Herman Baertschiger, Jr. (R-Grants Pass) “The reason we are taking the stance of walking out is because it is the only tool we have to draw attention to the injustices of this legislation on Oregon voters and businesses.
“My job is to get this horribly written bill back to committee and it’s the business leaders’ jobs to fix it."