A Clear and Present Danger: Education Funding

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Alan Olsen

Hello Friends, 

The education of our children is a current "hot topic" at the Capitol. The Majority leadership in the Legislature are using the Education Budget as a means to take back the " tax kicker" by proposing an inadequate education budget figure, waiting until other budgets are funded and then proclaiming we need new money to appropriately fund Education. 

I recently sent an Op-Ed to my district newspapers and wanted to share this Op-Ed with my most valued constituents and friends across the State. 


A Clear and Present Danger: Education Funding

It is clear we need to fully fund our children’s education.  It is clear that even a billion new dollars into education didn't prevent Oregon from dropping to the worst graduation rate in the nation.  It is clear this must end now.  Our children’s future is presently in danger of an education collapse.  This must not happen.

 Each biennium the battle over school funding is fought in the halls of the Capitol in Salem.  In 2011 Democrat Governor Kitzhaber proposed a budget just over $5 billion dollars.  This from the leader who said he wanted 40% of Oregonians to have a Bachelors’ Degree or higher, 40% with an Associate of Arts Degree, and 20% with a High School Diploma or GED.  The final budget passed on a bipartisan vote at $5.75 billion.  Working together the legislative body was able to put an additional $640 million into schools.  However, working together this session with a super majority of Democrats is not feasible.

 In 2013, Governor Kitzhaber offered $6.1 billion, a mere $350 million increase.  At the same time, Republicans championed a $7 billion budget.  Once again, the Democrats, the alleged party of education, fell short on meeting the educational needs of our children.  The final budget was $6.75 billion dollars.  We could have done better since we raised taxes on seniors by $240 million.  However, even with this increased budget school graduation rates dropped.  The danger mounts.

 Once again, our Governor’s 2015 budget at $ 6.9 billion is lacking adequate funding.  The Legislative proposed Education Budget is only slightly higher at $7.255 billion.  Schools say they can get by with $7.5 billion.  Would it be that hard to put another $2.45 million into schools, considering our income forecast indicates we will have an additional $1.44 billion in next biennium’s budget?  Why can’t we make that happen?  The reasons are simple:  We continually spend every dime we take in without budgeting for the future: and, we couldn't hold our children “hostage” to justify an increase in taxes.

 There are a minimum of 31 proposed new tax bills this session that will reach into your pockets to pay for more wasteful spending such as Cover Oregon and the phantom Columbia River Crossing.  Ironically there is even a proposed income tax increase if the graduation rate drops further.  However, the big Enchilada is the “kicker”.  Efforts are underway this session to “take” the “kicker” away from taxpayers.  It is a plum that must be picked – but why?  Money is available in the current budget to fund education adequately IF we make that our priority.

 Fund schools properly to provide a quality education in Oregon and prevent the danger that awaits our children if they continue to be a low priority for the Oregon Legislature.  Adequate funding from the Legislature and wise spending by our School Boards will give Oregon children what they deserve.


Education has always been a top priority for me. I sponsored several bills at the start of this Legislative Session to adequately fund our K-12 Schools, Community Colleges and Public Universities.   

SB 642  Brings K-12 funding up to the $8 Billion mark

SB 647 Brings Community College funding up to $589 Million

SB 923 Brings Public University funding up to $760 Million 

 Senator Alan Olsen
Senate District 20

Email: Sen.AlanOlsen@state.or.us 

Capitol Phone: 503-986-1720

District Phone: 503-266-4599

Capitol Address: 900 Court St NE, S-425, Salem, OR 97301
District Address: 675 Northwest 2nd St., Canby, OR 97013
Website: http://www.oregonlegislature.gov/olsen



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