Brown budgets nearly $9 billion for school funding but will seek additional education investment
Wednesday, November 28, 2018
Gov. Kate Brown discusses her budget plan, which included significant education investments, Wednesday morning in the Capitol. “We need to decide together what kind of state we want to be,” she said. (Photo by Jake Arnold, OSBA)
Gov. Kate Brown proposed nearly $9 billion in 2019-21 baseline K-12 school funding in her budget released Wednesday morning, with additional education investment proposals that don’t have revenue support yet.
“Our education system is in desperate need of repair, reform and reinvestment,” she said at a news conference releasing the budget.
The proposal would increase education funding by about 9.8 percent, but it would fall far short of education advocates’ call for the $10.7 billion recommended in the Quality Education Model, a nonpartisan assessment of the costs of a high-quality Oregon education system. OSBA is pressing for revenue reform and cost containment to increase education spending to the model’s recommendation.
“This is a very positive first step in moving toward funding education at a level that our children deserve, and we thank the governor for that,” said OSBA Executive Director Jim Green. “We look forward to working with Governor Brown and legislative leaders to make some hard but necessary decisions on how to address nearly three decades of chronically underfunding our schools.”
Brown’s budget included $100 million for Public Employees Retirement System side accounts that are designed to reduce public employers’ payroll rates. Brown also wants to fully fund Measure 98 at $303 million to support career and technical education, dropout prevention and college preparation.
Oregon’s 2019-21 revenue will be $623 million short of maintaining current service levels at all public agencies, according to a Legislative Fiscal Office report released Monday. Brown’s budget offers a baseline that flat lines higher education funding to add money to the State School Fund. It offers $1.3 billion in early learning and K-12 education investment plans, but revenue proposals to fund them are still being worked out.
The LFO’s school district current service level forecast calls for $8.77 billion, but the Oregon Association of School Business Officials calculates schools will need $9.13 billion just to offer current programs and maintain staff.
“Our cost estimates are based on current collective bargaining agreements and what we believe normal inflation will be,” said Angie Peterman, OASBO executive director.
The governor’s budget lays down the first marker in a monthslong negotiation over education spending. The Legislature’s Joint Interim Committee on Student Success will issue its report on education needs in December. Draft policy recommendations include increased education spending and implementing the Quality Education Model’s goals.
The Legislature will draft its own budget early next year. Oregon’s November revenue forecast, however, said there is a “tremendous amount of uncertainty.” Two more revenue forecasts, one in February and one in May, will refine expectations for 2019-21 as the Legislature prepares its budget bills.