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Messages to use in talking about state revenue and local budgets Print E-mail

by Craig Hawkins, Communications Director

The current Ways and Means Co-Chairs' proposal to fund K-12 at $6.0 billion -- or, more accurately, about $2.9 billion in 2009-10, followed by about $2.7-to-$3.1 billion in 2010-11, depending on the economy and the fate of a likely revenue package -- is significantly less than Oregon schools need in order to provide the same basic level of education and opportunity for students that we offered prior to the recession.  The $6.0 billion allocation is more than we expected even a week ago, and the Ways and Means Co-Chairs and other legislators deserve some credit.  But it's not nearly as much as our kids deserve.

K-12's allocation is, as noted above, dependent on a state revenue package.  And while those of us who pay close attention to matters related to education funding have been highly aware of the budget crisis the State of Oregon is facing, the reality is that a vast majority of Oregonians haven’t heard much -- if anything -- about the crisis.  We share a PowerPoint presentation about budget and revenue polling and messaging at the Off The Record meeting last Friday that you may find useful as you communicate about your local budget.  It may also be useful as you begin to communicate about the state revenue package the legislature appears likely to enact next month. 

Much of the information in the presentation comes from Our Oregon, a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization that rightly points out that education leaders have an excellent opportunity to educate the public about how the budget crisis will impact our schools and our communities.  What is the story we should be telling?  Based on polling, here's what Our Oregon suggests:

  • More than 90 percent of the state’s budget pays for education, human services, and public safety—and most of that is education. Any significant cuts to the state’s budget will require cuts to those three areas.
  • Further cuts to the education budget would require additional teacher layoffs, even larger class sizes, continued elimination of popular and successful programs, and shorter school years.
  • Balancing the budget on the backs of school children and low-income families is unfair and irresponsible. These short-term cuts will only make it more difficult for Oregon to emerge from this recession.
  • Instead, we should look for a balanced solution that protects the long-term health of our state and our communities. We can’t do that without investing now in education.
  • We’re depending on our state leaders to take bold steps to preserve schools, protect the vulnerable, and restore fairness to Oregon’s tax system.
  • While families are struggling just to make ends meet, corporations and the wealthiest Oregonians need to carry their fair share of the burden. We can no longer afford for two-thirds of corporations doing business in Oregon to pay only the $10 corporate minimum income tax.
  • The Ways and Means Committee co-chairs have taken some steps forward, but families and students across the state are depending on them to do more to protect the vulnerable and middle-class, and ask corporations and the wealthy to pay their fair share to help get us through this crisis.
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This page was last updated on Tuesday, June 23, 2009 .