Wins for working families

House Speaker Tina Kotek

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

The 2015 session wrapped up on July 6 with huge wins for working families in every part of our state.

We made education a top priority because every Oregonian – from Pendleton to Portland, from Bandon to Bend – will benefit when everyone has a better chance to succeed.

We made a $7.4 billion investment in our K-12 public schools, which will provide a stable school year and fund full-day kindergarten for kids throughout Oregon for the first time in history.

A $35 million investment in Career and Technical Education and Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math education (CTE/STEM) will help increase high school graduation rates and better prepare Oregon students for high-wage jobs.

Making higher education more affordable for Oregon students was a primary focus this session, and we passed the largest investment in Oregon’s public colleges and universities in at least twenty years – about a 22% increase.

We also passed an innovative tuition waiver program for qualified community college students. Today, Governor Brown signed the bill, known as the “Oregon Promise,” into law, attracting some exciting attention from President Obama:


We targeted support toward our agriculture and natural resource sectors and made sure our spending decisions benefited all communities
.  Some of the highlights include:

  • $50 million in grants and loans to meet water storage and conservation needs around the state to support our agriculture industry and plan for tomorrow’s needs.
  • Expansion of Oregon’s Farm to School program, which supports local farmers by helping schools offset the costs of purchasing locally grown or processed food.
  • Investments to position Oregon on the cutting edge of the forestry and wood products industries and create rural jobs, including a state-of-the-art forest science facility at Oregon State University, an innovative manufacturing program focused on advanced engineering of wood products, and support for forest collaboratives that employ loggers in unhealthy and fire-prone forests.

We took bold steps to break down barriers that stand in the way of success for too many women and working families across the state, including a historic set of “Fair Shot” bills signed into law earlier this week:

  • The Sick Leave for All Oregonians Act will make sure most working Oregonians can accrue a reasonable number of paid sick days each year – a basic workplace protection that will make a major difference for families across the state.
  • Oregon Retirement Savings Accounts will give more families the opportunity to save for retirement via an easy, effective, and portable savings account.
  • Establishing long-needed rules to define and prohibit racial profiling will help rebuild public trust in local law enforcement and make communities stronger and safer.
  • Removing questions about criminal history from job applications, commonly known as “ban the box,” will help Oregonians get back on their feet once they have served their time.

You can read more highlights from the session here. Even with such a long list of accomplishments, there’s always more left to do (like raising Oregon’s minimum wage so that people working full time are not living in poverty).

Still, this session will be remembered as the year we put opportunity for working families first.

Thank you to everyone who worked so hard to make this a successful session – including those of you who took the time to send me your ideas, questions, or concerns over the past few months.

As always, it is a pleasure to represent you.



Tina Kotek

State Representative
House District 44
Speaker of the House

email: Rep. I phone: 503-986-1200
address: 900 Court St NE, H-269, Salem, OR 97301