Governor’s proposed budget sets stage for legislative funding discussions
Gov. Kate Brown released Tuesday, Dec. 1, her proposed budget for the 2021-23 biennium.
Brown’s budget proposal would prioritize investments to address racism and structural inequities at a time when the state is facing projections of flat- or declining-revenue collections. Although the budget would make significant investments in certain education programs and agencies, the overall proposal for the State School Fund and higher education institutions would not meet schools’ needs, a fact she acknowledges.
Brown touted this budget, titled “Oregon For All: Creating a Place Where Everyone Can Thrive,” as the first in Oregon history that has deliberately focused on racism and inequity, citing the work of her Racial Justice Council.
The governor formed the council to infuse the budget creation process with Oregonians of color and to determine specific policy changes to recommend to her and the Legislature across six specific policy areas, including education. The council’s influence persists through the budget proposal, which specifically acknowledges the need to invest in Oregon’s children, particularly children of color and marginalized student populations.
“Continuing to prioritize and expand investments targeted at improving educational access and outcomes for Oregon’s Black, Indigenous, Latino, Latina, and Latinx, Asian, Pacific Islander, Tribal students, students of color and other students experiencing marginalization is a critical investment in our communities, our economic growth and our future as a state,” the budget document says.
Broadly, the budget prioritizes investments in early learning and full distribution of Student Success Act dollars. For K-12, the major concern is the State School Fund. Brown said her proposed $9.1 billion allocation is insufficient to meet school districts’ needs and she hopes to receive more money from the federal government. The budget fully funds Student Investment Account and Ballot Measure 98 allocations, effectively framing a reduced State School Fund in the context of prioritizing investment in these other accounts.
In contrast to K-12, higher education institutions are “flat-funded” at the same level as last biennium, effectively making this proposal a higher-education cuts budget. Higher education advocates will likely work hard to increase funding at the Legislature.
There is still work to do to ensure an adequate State School Fund allocation for school districts, but it seems clear that this proposed budget reflects a prioritization of K-12 funding and key investments by the governor and her team. Although this budget truly is a proposal in the sense that it has no force of law, it has traditionally had powerful sway on shaping all legislative funding conversations in Salem. As this year looks to be no different, here are a few important funding proposal amounts.
- State School Fund: $9.1 billion
- Accomplished in part by a $200 million transfer from the Education Stability Fund. That fund is projected to have approximately $650 million in reserves at the end of 2020.
- $5 million added to the State School Fund to provide resources for the three districts most impacted by wildfire displacements: Phoenix-Talent, McKenzie and Santiam Canyon.
- Student Investment Account portion of Student Success Act: $778.8 million
- High School Graduation/College and Career Readiness (Ballot Measure 98): $318 million
- Creation of more than 7,000 slots for early learning programs, including:
- Oregon Pre-K (OPK): 2,400
- Preschool Promise: 3,600
- Early Childhood Equity Fund: 1,100
- Early Head Start: 260
- $299.9 million for early intervention/early childhood special education
- Enhancement of school nutrition programs: $84.3 million
- Targeted student-population programs:
- African-American/Black Student Success Plan: $14.4 million
- American Indian/Alaska Native Student Success Plan: $8.4 million
- Latinx/o/a Student Success Plan: $4.1 million
- LGBTQ2SIA Student Success Plan: $2.0 million
- Non-traditional pathways to educator licensure: $3.4 million
- Anti-Racism Initiative and Indigenous Educator Institute through the Educator Advancement Council: $14 million
- Youth reengagement programs: $23 million
- Growing and diversifying the workforce, including grow your own programs: $30.7 million
- Summer programs for Title I eligible schools: $6.3 million
- Student Investment Account technical assistance and interventions: $25 million
- ESD Student Success Act support: $36.9 million
- School safety: $3.6 million
- Oregon School Capital Improvement Matching program grants: $138.2 million
- Broadband and connectivity for K-12 through lottery bonds: $17.5 million
- Seismic rehabilitation grants bonding: $160 million
- Statewide K-12 facilities assessment: $3.5 million
The budget is thorough, but there are still some outstanding questions about specific programs that are important to certain services, including long-term care and treatment programs, regional programs, and other low incidence programs. We will be working to advocate for the continued funding of these crucial programs.
- Richard Donovan
Legislative Services specialist