New Proposed Budget Balanced on the Middle Class and Retirees
Proposal prioritizes K-12 schools but shortchanges community colleges
On March 4, Oregon's chief budget writers released their proposed budget for how to fund schools, community colleges, health care, and public safety for the next two years.
While we recognize that these are difficult decisions due to the continued impact of the recent economic collapse, the current budget asks retirees, working and middle-class families to carry the burden. Meanwhile, corporations and the wealthy are off the hook for paying their fair share.
Some budget specifics:
- The K-12 proposal is $6.75 billion budget, which includes $200 million in so-called PERS savings. We are grateful that the Co-Chairs are calling for additional and new investments in public education. This proposal increases education's share of the state general fund / lottery budget by almost 3 percent — the first real investment increase in more than 10 years. For many districts, this budget provides stability and will mean no additional cuts, but it will not allow most districts to restore positions, school days and valuable programs. In fact, some districts will still have to make cuts at this funding level.
- The proposed budget for community colleges is the same as the Governor's proposal at $428 million. The budget falls substantially short of what our economy needs to provide Oregonians the skills, training and education they need to get back to work. At this level, we could see an eight percent tuition increase for students.
- The budget calls for around $450 million of cuts to pensions for seniors and current public employees. This essentially equates to teachers, school employees and retirees having to pay for the increase in the budget for schools.
- The proposal only calls for $275 million in new revenue - far short of the amount that public employees are being asked to contribute through PERS Reform. Also, it does not specify additional contributions from the wealthy and big corporations who can afford to pay. We are disappointed that the Co-Chairs’ proposed budget does not call upon corporations and the wealthiest Oregonians, who have enjoyed almost all of the benefit of the economic recovery, to pay more to fund schools, senior services and other vital programs.
On a related note, the House and Senate Republicans offered up their own budget proposal which balances the budget solely on the backs of public employees and refuses to ask corporations and the wealthy to pay a dime more to support schools and other critical services. Their budget includes $600 million from OSBA's PERS reform proposal.
We believe there is a better way to fund what matters most, protect current and future retirees, and make sure corporations and the wealthy pay their fair share. We have shared a common sense, fair pathway to legislators that we hope they consider. Read our coalition statement with more details.
If you have any questions, please contact the OEA Government Relations department. We'll be sure to keep you updated on any new developments around the budget and other legislative priorities.