Session crunch brings funding successes and surprising number of dead bills
The final days of the 2022 legislative session are nigh, following a flurry of funding allocations and bill activity last week. Constitutionally the Legislature must adjourn no later than Monday, March 7. With that deadline looming, the Legislature made quick work on several education-related fronts last week.
House Speaker Dan Rayfield and Senate President Peter Courtney announced public K-12 education will get much-needed investments for summer school and workforce recruitment and retention.
- $150 million for summer learning: Following the success of HB 5042 from the 2021 session, the Legislature again invested in summer programs in three areas:
- Summer K-8 enrichment grants, to fund activities, learning and mental health support for students.
- Summer high school academic grants, to fund programs for grade 9-12 students to support on-time high school graduation.
- Summer community activity grants, to fund programs run by community partners, including day camps, park programs or tutoring.
- $100 million for education workforce retention and recruitment. This investment is not yet finalized but will likely come in the form of the grant program contained within HB 4030. That bill would allocate $78.2 million for a grant program for teacher retention and recruitment and $19.5 million for teacher training. The remainder, approximately $2.3 million, would go to program costs and to the creation of a statewide employment portal for educators.
- $25 million for wildfire-affected school districts. This investment is not yet finalized but will likely take the form of HB 4026. It would fund the most-severely affected school districts through 2024-25 across the three main school funding accounts: State School Fund, Student Investment Account and High School Success (Measure 98).
These funding allocations come during a time of teacher burnout and prolonged challenges for students.
These investments will hopefully be the first in a series of legislative actions over the coming sessions to address what Rep. Teresa Alonso Leon, D-Woodburn, called “a long-standing need.”
These investments were among the best news for public K-12 education. A number of education-related bills, however, did not fare so well last week and appear to be stalled or dead.
- HB 4029: Until last week, the OSBA and the Coalition of Oregon School Administrators’ bill for school leadership training seemed to have enough support to move forward. It is currently in the Joint Ways and Means Committee though, with no hearing scheduled. Although this means the bill is not completely dead, it is most likely to be a casualty of the short session timeline.
- HB 4099: This bill, championed by Rep. Andrea Valderrama, D-Portland, and supported by COSA, had broad support and would have created a student racial justice council. It also looks to be a casualty of the short session timelines as it also remains in Ways and Means with no hearing scheduled even though it has no known legislative opposition.
- HB 4155: This bill represented a potential $10 million investment in cybersecurity measures and was supported by OSBA and a broad coalition of local governments and universities. The bill ran into procedural problems from the start of the session, however, and likely was moved to the Ways and Means committee too late to be included in the final budget process.
- SB 1578: This bill would have added a new direct-complaint process to the State Board of Education and the Oregon Department of Education for allegations of illegal restraint and illegal reduction of school time. This bill was championed by Sen. Sara Gelser Blouin, D-Corvallis, and the amended bill was supported by COSA and OSBA. Legislative leadership decided not to move forward with the bill, much to Gelser Blouin’s discontent.
Sometimes a bill that appears to be dead is, in fact, just mostly dead. And mostly dead is, according to tradition, still slightly alive. One such bill is HB 4112, which would fund requirements associated with ethnic studies curricular standards previously passed by the Legislature. The bill will not move forward this session. The funding that the bill would have allocated will, instead, most likely be included in an end-of-session budget bill, with a budget note directing the money be spent on the things the bill proponents advocated for.
Finally, SB 1521, the COSA and OSBA continuity of school district leadership bill, continues to move forward despite Republican opposition. It passed the House floor Friday, Feb. 25, by a vote of 31-25. Because the bill was amended, it must go back to the Senate for another vote before heading to the desk of Gov. Kate Brown.
- Richard Donovan
Legislative Services specialist