OR Lege: Education budget on the brink

Carla Axtman

Sine die for the Oregon legislature is on the horizon, with a target date of June 28th. Will they make it? One bellweather could be today.

The Senate is set to vote today on the education budget. This is the largest education budget in Oregon history. After 7,000 teacher layoffs the last 5 years and cuts to school days, this $1 billion dollar increase over the last school budget will be the second largest increase in state history. Senator Chris Edwards (D-Eugene) has said he may not vote in favor of the bill, as he says that the funding for schools is still inadequate, leaving his local school district short of what it needs. If the budget doesn't pass, it's a sign that session may not finish on schedule.

Senate Minority Leader Ted Ferrioli (R-John Day) told on KATU on June 10 that he wasn't holding the provider tax hostage anymore. Then he later told a reporter that in fact he is holding the revenue hostage. I'm having trouble seeing how this isn't Ferrioli talking out both sides of his mouth.

Take a moment and sign the Blue Oregon Action petition (sitting in the upper right corner of this blog), to demand Republicans stop holding the provider tax hostage.

More strong economic news came out for Oregon last week as well, which could impact budget talks. Oregon is the top state for manufacturing as a share of GDP last year, and one of the top states nationwide for manufacturing, period. This is one of a series of good articles recently that have detailed good news about Oregon's speeding economic recovery.

HB 3162 moved out of Ways and Means last week, over Republican objections, and will be on the House Floor this week. This is the Toxics Disclosure Act that will put transparency around potential toxic chemicals in products in Oregon.

Finally, it was reported at the end of last week that the discovery of genetically modified wheat in a field in Eastern Oregon was costing Oregon wheat farmers, as Japan has suspended imports of Northwest wheat. Oregon legislators are looking to hold someone financially accountable for the cost to farmers and the USDA is still investigating. Rep. Brian Clem (D-Salem) says if the investigation fails to find a responsible party, he will urge the attorney general to sue Monsanto, who produced the modified wheat.

Farmers from a number of states have already filed lawsuits against Monsanto over this issue.

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