Reading "If the Shoe Fits" with a student


This week saw some major changes in our education funding plan.  I outline those changes, and the reasons why I support them, below.

Also, the Legislature has released a brand new website, which will make it easier for the public to track the bills in this session. Click here to learn how to use the new website.

As always, things are speeding up.  A walk becomes a jog.  The sprint will come later.  Stay tuned!


Town Hall Schedule

Please join me at one of these following times/dates, as we discuss the issues facing Oregon's 77th Legislature.

City: Halsey
Topic: General Information
Date: March 19th, 2013
Time: 6:00 pm-7:00 pm
Location: Halsey Community Center-100 West Street

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City: Springfield
Topic: Joint Town Hall with Rep. Lively and Sen. Beyer
Date: April 9th
Time: 6:30 pm-7:30 pm
Location: Springfield City Hall-225 North 5th Street

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City: Creswell
Topic: General Information
Date: April 23rd
Time: 5:30 pm-6:30 pm
Location: Creswell Coffee-116 Melton Rd

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City: Eugene
Topic: Higher Education
Date: Tuesday, May 7th
Time: 6:00 pm-7:00 pm
Location: University of Oregon Campus-Erb Memorial Union (1228 University St)

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City: Marcola
Topic: General Information
Date: Tuesday, May 14th
Time: 6:00 pm-7:00 pm
Location: Mohawk Valley Rural Fire District-92068 Marcola Rd

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City: Eugene
Topic: Overview of the Budget
Date: Tuesday, May 28th
Time: 6:00 pm-8:00 pm
Location: LCC Downtown Campus-101 West 10th Ave

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City: Coburg
Topic: General Information
Date: Tuesday, June 11th
Time: 6:00 pm-7:00 pm
Location: Coburg City Hall-91069 N Willamette St

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Legislative Report

               The Budget and Oregon's Students

    On March 4th, the Co-Chairs of the Joint Committee on Ways and Means released their proposed budget for the 2013-2015 biennium.  This is an outline for how the State of Oregon will spend your state General Fund for the next two years, and it contained some good news: potentially more money for our schools.  Through a combination of increased revenue from the general fund and the lottery fund, as well as savings of pension costs, the committee has been able to make an additional $1 billion available for the classroom.
    That $1 billion can go to hiring back teachers so that we can reduce class size for our students.  It can go to increasing the number of school days and bringing back art and music curricula.  Essentially, it can go to ensuring that our children have a better education.
    However, the funding has not been approved yet.  We only have the blueprint.  In order to ensure that we have enough resources, we must reduce the costs of public pensions and reduce tax expenditures, so that we can provide our state’s children with the funding their schools need. 
    Raising revenue, in addition to cutting costs, is necessary to prevent further cuts to our schools.  If we fund schools at an adequate level, we can ensure that every child has the opportunity to receive a good education.  These steps will not be easy.  They require that Oregonians look past their immediate self-interest and embrace the shared sacrifice which has been a hallmark of American success for over 300 years.

                    Putting our Children First

    When my son was a student in the fifth grade, he had a particularly wonderful teacher. She inspired my son to love school, and taught him to appreciate good writing and creative thinking.  But when the school district had to make cuts to its budget, it let that teacher go, along with over a hundred others.  Our community was saddened that these dedicated and talented teachers were yet more victims, along with their students, of school budget cuts.
   These draconian cuts have continued and worsened for 20 years.  If we are to have a vibrant democracy, a healthy economy, and safe neighborhoods, we must reverse the trend and invest in our schools.
    Our class sizes are too large.  Teachers are stretched to ensure that all children get the individualized attention that they need.  Our two-decades long decrease in school funding is the main cause of the problem.  Because of limits on revenue-raising, we have been forced to lay off teachers and increase class size.  In fact, we have 6,500 fewer K-12 jobs than we did in 2008.  In 1989 Oregon was 15th in amount-per-student spending among the states.  As of 2010, we are 43rd.  These tax cuts have served to limit our children’s ability to get a good education and have contributed to the decline of our economy. 
    I strongly believe that every person in our state should have access to a quality education.  That is also why I voted for HB 2787, which would allow for young people who were brought here illegally as children to pay in-state tuition rates at Oregon’s public universities.  They would have to have spent at least five years in a U.S. school, three years at an Oregon high school, and be currently working to become citizens.  Because these young people were brought here by their parents, they should not be punished by being charged higher rates for college.  If these young people want to educate themselves, become leaders in the community, and contribute to our economy, we should encourage them.  In fact, our choice is clear: either they can obtain college degrees and be contributors to our economy, or they may become drags on the economy.  This is not only a moral issue, it is an economic one.
    We still have a lot of work to do on education.  We have to work to reduce class size, lower the costs of tuition (and student loan debt), and increase vocational training.  But this session will see us take some important steps forward.  I sincerely hope that the additional funding helps to relieve our schools’ struggles.  If we put our children’s education first, we can guarantee a brighter future for Oregon. 
Stay tuned!


March 11, 2013