On Jan. 23, Oregonians will be asked to vote on Measure 101 in a special election. A “yes” vote affirms temporary assessments created as part of House Bill 2391, enacted by the 2017 Oregon Legislature, to address health care funding issues. A “no” vote would reduce state and federal funding for Medicaid and insurance premium assistance.
OSBA has joined other education and healthcare organizations in supporting the measure for two primary reasons: State revenues, and therefore school budgets, are projected to fall by hundreds of millions of dollars if the measure fails; and limiting healthcare options to low-income families will tend to limit their educational opportunities.
In other words, sick kids have a hard time thriving in school. The assessment pays for Medicaid expansion to the working poor, about 350,000 Oregonians.
In recent weeks, opponents of the measure have focused attention on the potential for the bill to result in as much as $25 million in new assessments being paid by school districts statewide. Even if this figure proves accurate, schools stand to lose much more funding if the measure fails. How much is unclear, because ultimately the state Legislature must decide how to recoup as much as $320 million in lost revenue if the measure fails.
Further complicating the budget picture is that the loss of that state revenue would endanger $1.87 billion in federal matching funds for the 2017-19 biennium.
If budget cuts to balance the loss in state revenue were shared equally across all programs represented within the state budget, the State School Fund could lose as much as $125 million, or about 1.5 percent of its total for 2017-19.
“Reductions in the second year of the biennium could devastate services for schools and kids,” says OSBA Executive Director Jim Green. “For some districts, there are going to be cuts they can’t easily weather.”
In addition to OSBA, Measure 101 has been endorsed by the Oregon Education Association, Oregon PTA, Stand for Children, League of Women Voters-Oregon and a wide variety of healthcare organizations.