We passed the first milestone Feb. 26, the last day for a legislator to draft an unlimited number of bills. Legislators are now limited to five bills for the remainder of the session. The next major deadline is March 29, when policy committees must post a work session on bills they intend to move out of committee. The bills in a policy committee that don’t get scheduled for a work session are considered “dead,” with a few exceptions.
The quarterly revenue forecast was delivered to the House and Senate Revenue committees on Feb. 27, showing that Oregon revenues were up again. The personal kicker is projected to be $748.5 million, to be returned to taxpayers as a credit when 2020 taxes are filed. The corporate kicker is expected to grow to $352.8 million, but that money is dedicated to K-12 education.
The co-chairs will use this forecast to craft the state’s budget for the next biennium. There continue to be conversations about keeping the kicker instead of returning it to taxpayers. To do this the Legislature would need a two-thirds vote of support to “suspend” the kicker. The last time the kicker was suspended was in the 1989-1991 biennium.
The Oregon Department of Education continued its budget presentation last week, highlighting the department’s work, programs and divisions. On Wednesday, March 6, at 8:30 a.m., in the Ways and Means Education Subcommittee, the Early Learning Division will have a hearing taking public testimony on that budget. A public hearing on the State School Fund budget will be held at 8:30 a.m. Thursday, March 7.
Current service level funding for schools is the budget process’ critical first step. This past year, OSBA and our partners at the Confederation of Oregon School Administrators, Oregon Education Association and the Oregon Association of School Business Officials have worked with the Legislative Fiscal Office, ODE, and the Governor’s Office on CSL funding. Specifically, the work done was on process to get all stakeholders on the same page about what the CSL number should be. For the past several biennia, budget writers and our school business officials have had a significant gap in the roll up (CSL) number of the K-12 budget.
The recent governor’s budget recorded a CSL at $8.97 billion, while the expected release of the co-chairs’ budget will have the K-12 number below the governor’s number. House Bill 2074 scheduled for Monday, March 4, will formalize the work done during the past year on the CSL number. The bill outlines who will be included in the discussions and includes use of the report done by the Quality Education Commission, which is charged with identifying best practices that support and improve student achievement and estimating costs. Ensuring student success requires broad and aligned investments in student-focused practices and attending to individual student needs.
Thanks again to all of you who continue to step up and advocate for investing in Oregon students.