OREGON HOUSE REPUBLICANS
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Rep. Jason Conger
May 23, 2011
REP. CONGER INTRODUCES SCHOOL SAVINGS ACT TO DIRECT
MORE FUNDING TO THE CLASSROOM
SALEM— Rep. Jason Conger (R-Bend) today introduced the School Savings Act of 2011 , a package of policy and education reforms that would save school districts as much as $200 million. By addressing major cost drivers such as PERS and unfunded state mandates, Rep. Conger said the package will direct more money to Oregon classrooms.
“For years, the Legislature has failed to take on the expense side of the school funding ledger,” Rep. Conger said. “For too long, we have passed the buck onto our school districts, forcing them to cut school days and increase class sizes. The School Savings Act represents a real effort to give school districts relief from escalating costs and mandates.”
The School Savings Act establishes a eight-part savings plan for school districts. The package includes PERS reforms to make employees’ contributions to their Individual Account Plan optional and limits the COLA for PERS recipients to the first $24,000, which is the average PERS pension.
“PERS costs continue to consume larger and larger portions of school district budgets,” Rep. Conger said. “These PERS reforms would reduce costs and help school districts avoid laying off teachers and other personnel. At some point, the legislature has to decide whether they are going to give automatic pay increases for the wealthiest of PERS recipients or start investing that money in our classrooms.”
The School Savings Act would give school districts considerable relief from unfunded state mandates. The package allows schools to opt out of the state’s Oregon Educator Benefits Board if they can show cost savings from acquiring health insurance in the marketplace.
Further, the package reforms Educational Service Districts to improve efficiency and eliminate waste and unnecessary levels of administration, and allows school districts more flexibility in setting compensation for substitute teachers.
“The School Savings Act fulfills the Legislature’s responsibility to reduce costs and improve education by implementing important reforms,” Rep. Conger said. “Cost-saving education reforms will help provide more adequate and stable funding for schools. Proposals to drain our state’s reserve accounts simply continues the unsustainable and ineffective practice of throwing more money at the problem.”
Proposals in the School Savings Act of 2011 can be found here.