Home arrow COSA Blogs arrow Lots of potential as the session winds to a close
Lots of potential as the session winds to a close Print E-mail

chuck-bennett.jpgby Chuck Bennett, Director of Government Relations

There’s nothing simple about closing down a Session of the Legislature. Some years the whole thing looks pretty easy and then there’s 2013.  But one piece of advice, don’t pray for simplicity if a quarter billion dollars or so are on the table. In fact, with that kind of potential addition to the currently committed level of funding, K-12 is potentially on target to receive just north of $7 billion in the State School Fund.

Here’s where the desire for simplicity comes in. To achieve that higher goal from the currently reported $6.75 billion in cash and PERS savings, legislators are going to have to vote for more PERS law changes and additional taxes on someone. That’s a complicated proposition for a Legislature divided for and against each issue. What isn’t divisive in the discussion is the common conviction in Salem that the state’s public schools, health care system and post-secondary institutions need more funding. That is a huge step in the right direction for Oregon’s school children.

Despite publicized timelines, this will be one of those classic series of meetings led by the Governor and attended by leaders from both the House and Senate that leak rumors and often yield surprisingly successful results. Gov. Kitzhaber is a veteran of this approach as are Senate President Peter Courtney and Senate Minority Leader Ted Ferrioli. House leaders Speaker Tina Kotek and Minority Leader Mike McLane are newer but gaining experience by the hour.

The most common question is, “What can I do to help make something happen on this?” The best answer is to contact your legislative delegation and tell them what a $7 billion k-12 budget would mean for the kids in your district in terms of teachers per classroom, number of school days, quality programs and especially improved achievement. Sometimes these numbers get so large, the reality of what they are used for at the student level gets lost in the per ADMw calculation. That’s where your ability to share individual stories of student or school opportunities driven by adequate funding can make all the difference.

Other than the funding, there are very few issues related to education still outstanding. The creation of an educator effectiveness network and strategic investments over and above the allocation to the State School Fund will await a final funding plan. A change in the due date for the state achievement compacts to Oct. 15 is scheduled for a vote Monday. All of the small schools issues are moving along quickly now or are passed into law. There are a couple of ESD issue unresolved but none of them represent major reorganization initiatives.

As soon as the Session ends, COSA and OSBA will go to work on an end of Session report to present a detailed review of the 2013 Legislature.

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This page was last updated on Friday, June 07, 2013 .