Upcoming Town Halls
Let's Talk about your Questions and Ideas!
Join State Sen. Floyd Prozanski, Rep. Paul Holvey and
Rep. Phil Barnhart
Saturday, April 23rd
at 9 a.m.
Laurelwood Golf Course, Fireside Room
2700 Columbia Street, Eugene, Oregon 97403
Lane County Legislators
host Town Hall on the Oregon Budget
with Ways and Means Co-Chair Peter Buckley
Thursday, May 5th
at 7 p.m.
Lane Community College
On the Main Campus at the Forum, Building 17 Room 308-309
4000 East 30th Avenue, Eugene OR 97405
(map and directions)
Join Rep. Terry Beyer and Rep. Phil Barnhart>
Saturday, May 14th
at 12 p.m.
Springfield Town Hall, Council Chambers
225 Fifth Street, Springfield, Oregon 97477
Interested in Serving on the Lane County Intergovernmental Housing Policy Board?
Phishing Scams Expected to Increase Following Epsilon Data Breach
to find out is you may be affected and how to avoid being scammed.
Targeted by Fake Telemarketers
Many businesses have recently received calls from people pretending to be with an Oregon business agency, inquiring about the workforce and when the business last moved. Don't respond, unless you want a higher phone bill.
Read more here
As I write this I am listening to the debate on the House Floor of SB 5552, the K-12 school funding bill, the largest budget bill of our session.
As I told you before, passing the budget is essential but getting it right will be hard, perhaps even impossible.
The $5.7 billion in the state school fund for 2011-13 is an additional reduction, in real unadjusted dollars, from the 2009-11 budget. With this budget, Springfield School District will cut school days and reduce staff and administration; they have already sent layoff notices to a number of teachers. After a strategic look forward, the district decided to close four schools in 2011 and an additional school in 2012. Bethel School District will reduce teacher pay and classroom days for students. Eugene School District will close four schools in 2011 and an one more in 2012, reduce staff and services, and either reduce classroom days or pay. The district believes that the 4J bond measure and a City Income tax for schools, if passed, can help maintain instructional days for students and reduce anticipated increases in class size. The smaller school districts such as Creswell, Pleasant Hill, Central Linn and the others are all facing what for them are enormous cuts that reduce their students chance to obtain a good education.
While speaking to the bill, Representative Peter Buckley (D-Ashland), co-chair of the Ways and Means Committee said, “We are not providing our children with the same opportunities we had.” The amount of the budget should be at least $2 billion more in order to provide the programs our children need and deserve to become successful.
Later we will be dealing with health budgets that are $800 million short to provide basic medical and other services to needy Oregonians. So far Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF) will only be able to fund this minimal support for 18 months. The maximum allowed by federal government is 5 years. The average time families need to get back on their feet is 24 months. If we are unable to do better, many of the children living in these families will become homeless sometime in the winter of 2012-2013.
The biggest reason for the catastrophic budget shortfall is the general economic decline and the resulting reduced income tax collection. Oregon seems to be on the mend. With fits and starts our jobs are growing again but very slowly.
The second biggest reason, to the tune of $754M, is the decision of Representative Dennis Richardson (R-Southern Oregon), the other House Co-Chair of the Ways and Means Committee, to hold an excessive unspent rainy day fund. It is raining now. We should budget these funds to close gaps in K-12 schools, community colleges, basic programs to help troubled kids, health care for the needy and disabled, to keep roofs over the heads of children by funding TANF, and the many other programs you will be shocked about when we do not fund them.
There is no explanation I can accept for failing to spend the carefully collected rainy day funds when it is raining hard. This three-quarter of a billion dollars must go into our budgets this biennium. During the debate Representative Jules Bailey (D-Bridgetown) reminded us that companies will not come to Oregon or establish themselves here if their employees believe our public schools are not good enough to educate their children. Oregon is in big trouble because some are afraid and unwilling to spend rainy day funds now when the need is greatest in 2011-2013.
We also must reduce costly and wasteful subsidies to big businesses in our tax system and elsewhere to concentrate on what should be our main focus; providing the kind of education at K-12, vocational, professional, Community College and University to make sure the next generation has the start in life they need and attract the businesses that will come and grow here because we took our privilege and obligation to care for the children seriously.
I voted “No” on this devastating bill. It passed 32-28. Stay tuned.
April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month
Pinwheels for Prevention>