Today the Oregon Senate approved a $6.55 billion dollar appropriation for the State School Fund with the passage of Senate Bill 5519 on a 22-8 vote. Previously on June 17th, the bill had failed on a 15-15 vote when Sen. Chris Edwards (D-Eugene) joined all 14 Senate Republicans in voting against the bill. Coupled with previously passed reforms to the Public Employees Retirement System (PERS) that provide $200 million in savings, K-12 schools will get the equivalent of $6.75 billion in spending power for the biennium.
The reconsideration of the bill was delayed for several days as legislative leaders and the Governor worked on a “grand bargain” that would include increased revenue and further reforms of PERS. Absent a deal at this time, Senate leaders brought the K-12 budget back to the floor for a vote.
Betsy Miller-Jones, OSBA’s executive director, said time is running out for a larger compromise on increased revenue and PERS reforms. Those negotiations, which are being supported by Gov. Kitzhaber, could make up to $7 billion available for K-12 education in 2013-15. OSBA continues to press legislators to make a deal to increase their investment in schools.
“We are pleased that the Legislature added a billion dollars to the schools budget to help us turn the corner on the worst of the cuts,” Miller-Jones said. “The Legislature still has time to do more for schools by passing a bipartisan revenue and PERS plan that ensures no school district in Oregon will have to lay off teachers or cut school days. We urge them to continue working towards a deal.”