Joint Committee on Student Success members, including Co-Chair Sen. Arnie Roblan (standing), met with Beaverton-area business leaders last year during the committee’s fact-finding tour around the state. (Photo by Jake Arnold, OSBA/July 2018)
Oregon Manufacturers and Commerce announced Tuesday that it is dropping its attempt to partially repeal the Student Success Act.
“Great, great news for our kids,” OSBA Executive Director Jim Green said. “This announcement moves us one step closer to ensuring that this vital investment in our young people will become a reality.”
The trade group opposed the law’s business activities tax, which will pay for investing roughly $1 billion a year in Oregon education. The group filed paperwork with the Oregon secretary of state’s office to repeal the tax in House Bill 3427, the Student Success Act.
No other group has put forth a challenge. A ballot petition would require nearly 75,000 signatures by Sept. 27 to move forward.
Oregon Manufacturers and Commerce said in an email Tuesday that legislation passed late in the session made a referral effort unlikely to succeed. The email cited the prohibition of electronic petition signature sheets, moving the referral election date to January and the need to repeal both HB 3427 and HB 2164, which contained technical fixes to the act.
The trade group’s email, however, said the association would explore legislative action or other potential initiatives to minimize the new tax’s effects.
Freres Lumber President Rob Freres, who helped start Oregon Manufacturers and Commerce, donated $1 million to fight the act. He was unavailable to comment Tuesday, and it was unclear what he would support going forward. An Oregon Manufacturers and Commerce representative also could not be reached.
Opposition to the law has struggled to find widespread support. In April, Oregon Business & Industry President Sandra McDonough testified that the state’s leading business association would not oppose the act. The Coalition for the Common Good, a business and union group that includes Nike, has strongly supported the act.
Sen. Arnie Roblan, one of the act’s creators, said Tuesday the scarcity of opposition speaks to the law’s thoroughness addressing education needs and public concerns.
“It’s a tribute to all the people who went on the tours, who got engaged, who got involved,” he said. “It happened because it resonated with enough people in our state to make a difference.”
Roblan, D-Coos Bay, said it was a relief that the Oregon Department of Education and school districts could start working on plans now, assured of a stable source of funding.
Green said that OSBA will remain vigilant for other challenges but staff can now shift most of their attention to helping districts implement the law.
“Our kids have waited too long for us to make the investments our schools need,” Green said. “Every obstacle we can clear from their path is a victory.”