SALEM, Ore. — Democrats in the Oregon House of Representatives prevailed on a $9.3 billion school funding package Thursday, increasing the state's education budget by 3.3 percent above current two-year period. The bill, which previously passed in the Senate, now heads to Governor Brown's desk.
According to House Democrats, the $9.3 billion budget will be added to nearly $4.6 billion in property taxes and other local revenues, and receives funding from the corporate activity tax-funded Student Success Act.
“We are creating record investments in our public school system this session,” said Rep. Susan McLain, who carried the bill on the House floor. “We know so many Oregonians are struggling right now, which is why each and every one of us is working hard to ensure we can meet everyone’s needs, especially those of our BIPOC and low-income communities, who have disproportionately been impacted by the multiple crises this past year.”
The budget bill passed over opposition from House Republicans, who were pushing for an increase in the budget amount from $9.3 billion to $9.6 billion by sending it back to committee, claiming that the bill would result in layoffs and budget cuts.
“We should not be moving forward with a budget that will harm our kids’ education in the long run,” said House Republican Leader Christine Drazan. “Schools tell us that $9.6 billion is needed to avoid cuts next year, and we must believe them. Our state has more money than ever, and we’re committed to giving families the choice of in-person learning next fall. This is the wrong time to move forward with a ‘cuts’ budget. Our kids deserve better.”
Republicans also wanted to pass a separate bill that would require all Oregon public schools to offer full-time in-person learning during the coming school year "notwithstanding any COVID-19 declaration of emergency or any provisions of a COVID-19 emergency rule."
Both Republican motions failed against the Democratic Majority in the House.
"The budget that we passed today stabilizes our education fund at a time when Oregon students need that stability and support, and it does so without requiring cuts to our other essential services,” said Democratic Rep. Teresa Alonso Leon, who serves as Chair of the House Committee on Education. “As a legislative body, we have an opportunity to invest in a public education system that works for all—especially our Black children, Indigenous children, children of color, low-income children, children in rural communities, children experiencing disability, and immigrant and refugee children. This budget moves us in that direction, and we all know there will be more work going forward to help us achieve equitable outcomes for Oregon’s BIPOC children.”