Representative John Lively

House District 12 – Springfield

E-Newsletter   |   June 3, 2013

Dear friends and neighbors,

      Our goal here in Salem remains to adjourn by June 30.  While a great deal of work needs to be completed yet, meeting that goal is still within our control.  Final discussions and actions are now taking place around the state budget.  The good news is that income is up, providing opportunities to add money back in areas that have seen continual decreases over the past several years.  At the same time though, with the further loss of Federal support, much of the increased state revenue will only replace funds previously supplied from the Federal level.

      Funding for K-12 education has been a top priority of mine and most others during this session.  With our improving economy and the resulting increase in revenue, we are working on a budget that will fund the K-12 system at $6.75 billion—almost a billion dollars more than was available the last biennium.  Even with this increased investment, school districts still face some tough choices: they will not be able to add back many of the staff lost over the past few years, and will have limited ability to start rebuilding much needed reserves.  In Springfield, this is the first year in many when the District has not been faced with cutting additional teaching positions.

      Part of the discussion over the K-12 budget is the current unfunded liability in the Public Employees Retirement System.  Changes have already been approved and signed by the Governor decreasing those liabilities in the 2013–2015 budget.  With these reforms, which mostly affect cost-of-living adjustments of the largest pensions, an additional $200 million in funding for our schools is available for 2013 – 2015. Conversations continue over additional PERS reforms.  Whether more reforms will be agreed to depends on additional revenue to add to the funds for education and how any additional reforms will impact current public employees.

      Key discussions also continue on reforms to our public safety system.  Making changes that slow the rate of growth in our prison population is critical to increase funding for mental health, drug treatment and other services to help people recover and avoid prison. I am hopeful that our commitment to better funding for education, public safety, and mental health will result in a turning point for Oregon.  As always, I encourage you to call or write my office with your thoughts as we wrap-up the issues remaining in this legislative session.