Good news and a historic opportunity


Representative Tina Kotek
D-North/NE Portland
District 44

Phone: 503-986-1444    900 Court St. NE, H-269, Salem Oregon 97301
Email:     Website:

Dear Friends and Neighbors,


It’s a typical spring in Oregon, with warm sunny days and blue skies quickly giving way to stormier weather. This week in Salem wasn’t all that different.


State Economist reports increased revenue, job growth


On Thursday morning, we received the quarterly Economic and Revenue Forecast from the state economist. Some in the Capitol have likened it to a ray of sunshine. After a half decade in which Oregon has sustained $4 billion worth of cuts to education and critical state services, we received word that over the next biennium, revenue is projected to grow by over $270 million compared to previous estimates.


This news gives us the resources we need to start the final march to passing balanced budgets that will offer stability to most schools and staunch the bleeding of jobs and services we’ve faced for the past five years.


The state economist also told us that Oregon is poised for strong job growth. School funding and job creation are the top two priorities for me this session, and the news we received Thursday tells us that we have the ability to make lasting progress on both fronts if the Legislature works together to stay focused on these priorities.


An historic opportunity to make meaningful investments in education


Yesterday afternoon, I made a very difficult decision to accept a framework for a “go home” compromise proposed by Governor Kitzhaber that would involve $200 million in new revenue combined with another change to the PERS system regarding inactive members.


The decision to come to the table to work on the compromise framework was not an easy one to make. The Legislature has already passed (and the Governor has signed into law) more than $800 million worth of savings from PERS. I have consistently said I believe this is enough to ask of middle-class retirees to balance our budget and I’m fighting to rein in tax breaks that benefit corporations and the wealthy to balance the budget.  The fact remains that we need to do everything possible to fund education if we’re going to stop laying off teachers, forcing kids into jam-packed classrooms, and cutting school days, not to mention improving access to community colleges and universities.


We could adjourn session with the resources we have, but Oregon’s students, teachers, and parents are counting on us to do more. It became apparent that accepting the Governor’s proposed compromise framework would allow us to pass additional revenue for education if lawmakers from both parties came to the table to work on the details of the arrangement.  Like the filibuster in Congress, the Legislature requires a 3/5 majority to pass new revenue.  We need Republican votes for any additional resources.


Senate President Peter Courtney and I both accepted the Governor’s compromise framework. Republican leaders rejected it.


Yesterday afternoon, I was optimistic that we could all come together around the shared goal of funding education. I remain optimistic that that is possible.


However, as Oregon lawmakers, we have a clear deadline to pass a balanced budget and return to the communities we represent. At this point we must begin moving forward on the budget based on the positive numbers from the revenue forecast. I still hold out hope that the historic opportunity to reinvest in education will outweigh the temptation of partisanship. This is Oregon, not Washington D.C. We know how to work together to deliver on Oregonians’ priorities. I’ll keep pushing my colleagues to give our state the education system it deserves and needs.


We know Oregon’s economy is recovering, small businesses are growing, and people are going back to work. We have the resources to pass stable budgets. And if we get beyond partisanship, we can do even better.


In the district


Thank you for the warm welcome and big smiles directed my way during last Saturday’s St. Johns Parade. I was incredibly honored to be the parade’s Grand Marshal. It was a wonderful day to be a North Portlander!


Best wishes,

Rep. Tina Kotek
House District 44
Speaker of the House