State of the States
Ore. Leader Seeks ‘Rainy Day’ Fund, Double-Digit Hike in Aid for Schools
“Opportunity” was the theme of Oregon Gov. Theodore R. Kulongoski’s Jan. 8 inaugural address as he highlighted increased education funding at all levels on the opening day of the legislature’s 2007 session.
The governor’s “hope and opportunity” two-year budget calls for a 14 percent increase in K-12 education spending for the 2007-09 biennium—$6.06 billion, compared with $5.3 billion in 2005-07. His plan also includes establishing a “rainy day” schools fund to cope with unexpected operating-budget needs, although Mr. Kulongoski did not give details about the amount or source of funding.
The second-term Democrat, who was re-elected in November, has reason to be generous—the state has recovered from a recession lasting from 2000 to 2003, and now has $2.3 billion more in general and lottery funds than in the last biennium. The governor is recommending a 2007-09 budget of $128 billion.
“We have the opportunity to fully fund education … while building a reserve fund that will shelter us from the next recession,” Gov. Kulongoski told the legislature.
The governor’s proposal also includes $96.1 million to allow all eligible 3- and 4-year olds to attend Head Start. Almost $39 million of that amount would come from his plan to raise the corporate minimum income tax, which hasn’t been updated since 1931, above the current $10 annual minimum. Whether that proposal will pass muster with the Democratic-controlled legislature remains to be seen.
“The time has come to make a real investment in children. … [N]ot because it’s the right thing to do, although it is,” the governor said. “But because it is the smart thing to do.”
Vol. 26, Issue 19, Page 19