State of the States
Governor Urges Aid in Annual Speech
• Gov. Theodore R. Kulongoski
In what sounded like a campaign speech, Gov. Theodore R. Kulongoski of Oregon—a first-term Democrat who hopes to be re-elected in November—called for a 10 percent increase in education spending at all levels over the next two fiscal years in his Feb. 24 State of the State Address. The legislature is not in session this year, and the governor made his speech to a crowd of 500 at the Portland City Club.
Finance: The governor’s education spending proposal is a marked increase from his austere budget plan last year, which called for only a 2.4 percent rise in school funding. Under the new plan, 61 percent of the state’s general fund would go toward education, from prekindergarten through college. That means that the $5.3 billion in K-12 funding for fiscal years 2006 and 2007 would grow to $5.9 billion for the fiscal 2008-09 biennium.
Gov. Kulongoski, who is facing re-election challenges within his own party, proposed establishing a rainy-day fund for schools to head off drastic measures, such as trimming the school year or cutting programs, during an economic downturn. “For the first time, starting next year, teachers and administrators will be able to plan for the future with stability and a clear picture of their long-term funding,” the governor told his audience.
Insurance: His education plan is one of three major initiatives that he will present to the legislature when it reconvenes next January if he is re-elected.
Another initiative would provide health insurance for some 117,000 uninsured children by raising the state cigarette tax. The governor also seeks to increase the state’s use of ethanol, biodiesel, and other alternative fuels.
Vol. 25, Issue 26, Page 20